So should we use the word Chugger?

Well the PFRA have released a position statement on the use of the word ‘chugger’ (charity mugger). The statement issued notes that the phrase ‘was coined in 2002 by journalist Keith Barker-Main – compiler of the ‘Say What: News Words About Town’ column in the Metro free newspaper – and was intended from the very start to be a negative and insulting term.’

The statement goes on to say that:

After several years of prohibition of the use of the word, the PFRA has begun, over the past six months or so, to use it in official communications, culminating with a section entitled ‘Do you object to chuggers?’ on our revamped website, which was relaunched in June 2010.

They have decided to do this for the following reasons (which I have abbreviated here)

1) Use of the word ‘chugger’ is now growing exponentially and, if usage follows a classic product life cycle, then we have only just left the ‘early adopters’ stage and are entering the ‘growth’ phase. This suggests that peak usage of ‘chugger’ is therefore probably two or three years away.

2) Although fundraisers perceive that ‘chugger’ is predominantly used pejoratively, probably because this is how most of them encounter the use of the word, PFRA has detected a shift in its usage.  If use of the word ‘chugger’ continues to grow at this exponential rate, although the proportions of 1:2 negative:neutral usage might continue, in absolute terms, there will be far more people than ever before using ‘chugger’ as a neutral, non-value laden word.

3) Until a quite recently, PFRA endorsed a total prohibition on the use of ‘chugger’ in our day-to-day operations. . However, it is now clear to us that many people do not use it as an insult. Our view is that it matters less how people refer to street fundraisers; what’s more important is that they have a good understanding about how street fundraising operates and why charities use it. With so many more people now using the word ‘chugger’, PFRA believes we will be fighting a losing battle if we maintain our prohibition on its use.

4) Many people are unaware of the word or what it means (we often have to explain it to them). If ‘chugger’ is to become a more widely adopted term, then PFRA feels we need to be able to use the word in discussions with our regional stakeholders before they become more familiar with its minority pejorative usage.

5) However, we will only use ‘chugger’ where we consider it appropriate. We will not be adopting ‘chugger’ as our default term for a street F2F fundraiser.

You can read the full position statement here

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