Dear Street Canvassers, Stop.
Tell Street Canvassers to Stop Bothering You Without Saying a Word
Listen—I know your plight.
I've defended you to my friends and coworkers for years. I've made the case that you work for righteous causes, that organizations like Planned Parenthood and the ACLU need to scrap for money however they can, that the urbanites who resent you striking up conversations in public (gasp!) would be the first to panic if the organizations you're working for were to shut down for lack of funds.
But I can't defend you anymore. You guys are like kudzu: everywhere, aggressive, invasive.
There are swarms of you nowadays—not just a sprinkle in front of Nordstrom like in the old days—but packs of you roaming downtown sidewalks, in neighborhoods at every major intersection, outside every damn grocery store. Your vests change depending on the charity of the day and there's a different stack of paperwork on your clipboard, but your tactics are constant. "Do you have a second for the environment?" you ask in a friendly lilt. But then you don't take no for an answer, you stalk people as they walk, you hector them from down the block, you become petulant if we don't stop.
To be honest, I do have a second for the environment. I give money and time to Environment Washington—and to Planned Parenthood, PIRG, the DNC, and the ACLU. And I used to be a door-to-door canvasser myself. But the scores of mercenary canvassers—the ones who work for firms that simply switch uniforms to suit the charity of the day (red vests for the children, blue vests for the whales, green vests for MY MONEY)—who hassle me on the street aren't getting another penny from me. So, actually, I do have a second for the environment; I just don't have a second for you.
I don't mean to be rude. You're just doing your job. But there's a reason you're dubbed "chuggers" (charity muggers): Your increasing aggressiveness feels predatory. No means no—so stop asking. And to the folks at the charitable organizations that hire these canvassers: This fundraising tactic, the relentless street harassment, is now a liability to your own cause.
I'm done. And now when you approach me, street canvassers, I'm going to hand you a card.
Based on a similar card in Portland, it will explain why I'm not talking to you. We went ahead and made a .pdf of the cards so you could print them out at home (and we printed them in every copy of The Stranger) so folks can cut them out, carry them in their wallet or bag, and hand them to you. We mean well. And you do, too. But we've had it, street canvassers. Just stop.