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Scentre Cracks Down on Charity 'Chuggers' at Westfield Malls

18 May 2018 at 5:30 pm
Estelle Stathoulis
Shopping centre giant, Scentre, has publicly denounced “charity-muggers” from operating in their shopping centres with charities caught in the middle.

Estelle Stathoulis | 18 May 2018 at 5:30 pm


Scentre Cracks Down on Charity 'Chuggers' at Westfield Malls
18 May 2018 at 5:30 pm

Shopping centre giant, Scentre, has publicly denounced “charity-muggers” from operating in their shopping centres with charities caught in the middle.

Following Scentre’s recent announcement it would prohibit chuggers (charity-muggers) from operating in Westfield shopping centres, distinguishing third party fundraisers from those directly working for the charity has not proven to be an easy task.

FIA CEO Rob Edwards questioned how Westfield planned to enforce the new policy.

“Of course Westfield has the right to determine who operates on its premises,” Edwards said.

“But what about the growing number of charities who use their own staff to undertake face to face? How is Westfield going to differentiate these from third party fundraisers?”

It comes after Westfield recently served charity Kids with Cancer a “no-chuggers” letter after its fundraisers ran a raffle for a car in Westfield shopping malls.

“It was a bit of a scare for us,” said Peter Bohman, CEO for Kids with Cancer.  

“It had come to my attention that Westfield were cutting back on some of their own retailers and at the same time we were told that we were no longer welcome in Westfield shopping centres.

“But, since then we’ve had a call from Westfield and we’re meeting with them next Monday and we’ll have a better idea then what will be the status quo for us.”

When asked if Kids with Cancer had ever employed external companies to run their charities for them, Bohman confirmed they had not.

“No, we don’t. We’ve always done it ourselves, we’ve always made the booking ourselves,” he said.

“We’re only a charity doing what we can do and what we do is run our own charity in shopping centres – we’ve done that since 1998.”

Bohman said they had had no issues with Westfield before now.

“They are good shopping centres and the longer we can spend in there the more people can see us, the more $2 tickets we sell and the more kids we can help out,” he said.

Peter Hills-Jones, CEO of PRFA (Public Fundraising Regulatory Association), reiterated that Scentre’s decision was not only targeting charities but also any acquisition vendors.

These would include commercial companies as well as other forms of commercial products, such as cable companies.

“It’s not just charity fundraisers that have been singled out for poor practice, where charities and agencies that they’re working in partnership with are not following the PFRA standard,” Hills-Jones said.

“[Such practices] lead to all kinds of problems and the kinds of inappropriate pressure that may be brought to bare on the public.”

Among such practices prohibited by PFRA standards include following people through the shopping centre, using emotional blackmail when speaking to customers or obstructing and blocking them during their shopping visit.

“We certainly understand the position that Westfield have taken, that they feel at this time that fundraising and other forms of acquisition are not necessarily part of what they want to present to their customers,” Hills-Jones said.

“We carry out our own quality assurance checks on them and they’ll be fined if they’re found in breach of that.

“What we’d like to do over the course of the next five months is really work with Westfield to understand more about how our charities can adapt their offering – so for instance offering more experiential types of fundraising, potentially using virtual reality and other forms of fundraising to try and give a more in-depth, interesting and more the kind of fundraising that fits the kind of lifestyle presentation they’re trying to give to their customers.”

PFRA said it would be in contact with Westfield regarding this decision.

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