Cambridge RAG: The Truth

Krish Motha 26 January 2008

I you spend enough time wandering through the streets of Cambridge on a Saturday, chances are you will eventually encounter someone carrying a bucket, possibly wearing a silly costume and asking you ‘Any spare change for ‘ Street collections are a vital for charity fund raising. However, it is evident that there are still many misconceptions about ‘raids’ (the Cambridge RAG term for street collections) and ‘raiders’ which makes many people wary of giving up some of their hard-earned money.

Perhaps the most popular myth is that raiders get paid for their time. This is in fact not true. All collectors are volunteers and so do not receive payment for their work. As a result, all money which is raised in a Cambridge raid will go directly to the relevant charity.

However, there is another group of collectors called ‘chuggers’-short for charity muggers. These are the ones who carry a clipboard and ask for donations by direct debit. The majority of the money raised by these agents in their first year goes towards paying the agent and their firm. Therefore there is no guarantee that any of the money you part with will be going towards the charity that they claim to be representing. This is not true of street collectors who carry buckets or tins.

The other area of confusion concerns what a street collector is allowed to do and what they should not. The main problem is that the law itself is not very clear on this subject. The law in question states that ‘No collector shall importune any person to the annoyance of such person.’ Local councils all interpret this law in different ways. For example, in Bury St Edmunds a raider was given a warning for speaking to pedestrians to ask for donations. As a general rule, Cambridge RAG has urged its raiders to avoid shaking their buckets and shouting at potential donors so as to avoid causing annoyance but do encourage asking passers-by politely. For those who say that asking politely for some spare change is an annoyance, is it any more of an irritation than shop workers pushing flyers on you? If not, why are they not criticised for their actions in the same manner?

In recent years, there has been greater publicity about bogus street collectors and as a result, the public have become more wary about donating money to street collectors. However, it must be made clear that these incidents of fraud are rare. If one is concerned, they can always ask to see the charity permit of the raider in question. If they are genuine, they will have no problem with producing the appropriate documentation to show that they are a proper collector.

Cambridge RAG always needs more collectors in order to continue raising so much money for charity. Every Saturday, raids are run from the RAG office in the New Musuems Site from 9am until 5pm. If you are have some free time on a Saturday, raiding is a lot of fun and raises moneys for many great causes.

This Saturday, the raid is for Cam-Mind, a local charity dedicated to looking after people who have suffered mental disabilities. If you could spare an hour of your time, it would be much appreciated by both the charity and Cambridge RAG. If you want further information, please email Matt (mjhf2).

Krish Motha is a third year Mathmo and member of Cambridge RAG.