The charity gauntlet in Jamaica Plain

If you frequent downtown or Copley Square, you've evolved a strategy for dealing with the charity gauntlet - those earnest young kids in brightly colored T-shirts who ask if you have a minute to save the world.

Steve Garfield reports the gauntlet's in Jamaica Plain, too:

It seems like every time I walk by JP Licks, one charity or another is asking me for money. The solicitors work in pairs, and stand in such a way, to make sure they can approach every person. ... I don't think we should have to walk through this gauntlet of charity solicitors every time I want to walk down the street in JP.



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    Also on Elm Street in Davis Square

    Just try to walk from CVS to Dunkin Donuts, along the south side of Elm Street, without getting stopped by these people (or brusquely ignoring them).

    I work in JP and when our

    I work in JP and when our office was on Centre Street this was one thing about the area I hated. It got even worse once the college kids were around for the summer -- it was impossible to go to the post office or the bank or out for coffee without being assailed by at least a half dozen clipboard carrying solicitors. It got to the point where I would say "I work here" and walk away before they even opened their mouths.

    It's disconcerting to be asked for your credit card information

    By anon on

    by a kid on the street, even if you support the charity in question and are happy to support it. Good question, if they are required to get permission from the city for soliciting (I think they are). But even if they do have city permission, are there limits about how many can be in a certain area? And how smart is it for us to be giving money (check, credit card, or cash) to individuals we don't know? Time to call O'Malley's office (I guess) for more information.

    Charity Panhandlers

    By on

    If I'm in a less than good mood, I just don't acknowledge them and walk on by (I know, it's kind of mean, but, they're the ones trying to interrupt me). I will not give to any charity that employs this tactic, either on or off the street, no matter how much I agree with their cause. I think it's just plain annoying.

    When I'm in a not-so-good

    When I'm in a not-so-good mood, I like to ask the Save the Children canvassers in Downtown Crossing about their organization's abrupt abandonment of the soda tax, just as they began pursuing a big donation from Coke. They find someone else to pester pretty quickly.

    screw them

    By on

    i hate hard sales whether it's cars or starving babies. Screw the Clipboard Nazis

    JP... just like HK!

    It's so funny to me because when I spent time in Hong Kong last year, it was the *same* exact thing.

    College age kids in bright colored shirts would line the walkway leading from the Central business district and accost you on behalf of Greenpeace or the world's wildlife or abandoned puppies. It was the same kids almost every day in different t-shirts for different organizations.

    I guess no matter where you go in the world.. things really are the same!

    Chicago, summer 2009

    Volcanically hot day, about 12 gazillion percent humidity, sidewalk solicitor asks if I have a minute to help the children. "I fucking HATE children," I snarl, and stomp off -- and teenage daughter, two steps behind, squeals, "Dad!"

    Second teenage daughter, dawdling further behind, catches up to ask what I just did, having heard the solicitor whining to her colleague, "That man was SO MEAN to his kid..."

    Eh, intemperance of speech not recommended (nor summer in Chicago, come to that). But what's wrong with a polite "no, thanks," and walking on? People gotta work, charities gotta raise money, sidewalks are open to everyone ... and I have to presume that if it were ineffective, it wouldn't be so widespread.

    A simle and "sorry, not today"....

    ... (accompanied by a little shake of the head) always works for me.

    I wonder ... Why do so many Bostonians seem to hover on the edge of explosions of rage, when faced by no more than minor irritants. ;~{

    I've been close . . .

    . . . to a rage explosion on street solicitors before. A lot of us spend our days selling stuff or supporting the sale of stuff- and depending on the day- it can just be the wrong thing to hear on the street on your way home.

    I resent the organized solicitors- who now seem to use pretty young 20 somethings- more than actual bums. Everything is a come on- their opening lines- their canned responses to your objections. They have been coached by pros and it just rubs me the wrong way.

    Sometimes the minor irritant is the last straw

    By on

    I had one of those guys actually duck under my umbrella as I walked in the rain. I was 8 months pregnant and in the middle of a Braxton-Hicks contraction. But I ground out, "Sorry" and tried to continue on my way.

    It was when he ducked in front of me AGAIN and said, "Don't be sorry, stop and talk to me!" that I nearly beat him to death with the umbrella.

    That's pretty brazen

    If that was my kid inside you, I'd have grabbed him by the shirt collar for that one.

    I've gotten a catcall of "racist" as I walked away from one of these wastes of life once.

    I had something similar in

    By on

    I had something similar in Harvard Square a couple of months ago. As I got through the gauntlet, the last person said to me and my friend "privilege must be nice." I started to turn to engage her and then realized it was not worth it.

    I'd make a scene if I was

    I'd make a scene if I was called racists by one of those losers. I would turn back and say "What the fuck did you say about me?!" Then I'd take they're damned clipboard.

    Bunch of jerks, these organized solicitors.... They piss me off. I wish it were legal to give them a barehanded beat down. I'm going to propose it to Beacon Hill.

    if you walk to and from

    By on

    work everyday it's practically harassment. I think they are scams anyway; there's this new thing called the internet now so we can give to charity immediately without the guilt-pummeling sales talk.

    Generally it's because so

    By on

    Generally it's because so many of them refuse to take a firm "no" as an answer. I've been trailed down the street more than once, and it's obnoxious, and frankly a little threatening.

    "Why do so many Bostonians

    By on

    "Why do so many Bostonians seem to hover on the edge of explosions of rage, when faced by no more than minor irritants. ;~{ "

    Because 1) I work in a business where they are, and am approached daily, usually more than once. Add that to the city grind and it's more than I can take.

    And 2) I find their script manipulative and disgusting.

    One Suggestion

    By on

    My brother had an idea: wear a brightly colored shirt with something baffling on it - like Don't Nuke The Gay Whales for Jesus! and carry a clipboard. They might leave you alone.

    I wish there was some way to get rid of these pests

    By on

    They are inescapable, especially at Downtown Crossing and Copley Square. The worst part, after I politely decline, is the sneer of "have a wonderful DAY" as I walk away, turning the greeting into a vicious harrasment, homeless person style. They are trained to do this. They are professional fundraisers, working on a commission basis for each hapless person they bamboozle. They couldn't care less about the actual causes they espouse. There also appears to be an immense turnover. One seldom sees the same pests twice. It obviously isn't the greatest job in the world.

    Can't you just ignore them?

    By on

    Can't you just ignore them? If they say something like "have a wonderful day", just take it literally and enjoy it.

    I think they're obnoxious too, but it's easy to ignore them like any other crazy person on the street. And unlike crazy people on the street, you don't even have to worry that they might attack you.

    On a side note, one of my friends worked a few weeks for NYC Greenpeace like this, about ten years ago. He reported to me that it was a total scam, the money being funnelled to the local bosses, not being directed to charity. I can't accuse every organization of being this way, but I just presume it.

    it's impossible to ignore them

    By on

    Every single time I've walked past them, I've been talking to someone, MID-SENTENCE, and they barge in.

    It's purposefully rude and disruptive, you have to walk around them...really, someone please explain what the hell we owe these people? Grab their clipboard and chuck it in the street or into a trash can. Shove them away. Throw a drink in their face. Run over their toes with a stroller or step on their feet. The ONLY solution to this problem is to make these people so miserable that the companies that employ them can't find people to do the work.

    I'm sick and tired of being hounded on the street just trying to get from A to B!

    Every friggin day

    By on

    I live in JP and walk up there almost every day. They work in groups of four, 2 on each side of the street, so you can't even cross the street to get away from them. I want to get a shirt that just says NO in big letters and point to it.

    Working for an organization

    By on

    Working for an organization that uses this sort of fundraising tactic (and having done it myself, I can say a few things that might help put in in perspective for people.

    1. Yes, areas like DTXing and Copley Sq are so over-canvassed that many groups now totally skip those areas, basically because our financials stopped working. And yes, poor training of canvassers has lead to them escalating their attention getting tactics from simple, "do you have a minute for..." to, my favorite, "hey, do you know where Tremont st. is? Great, well since you're here..... blah blah blah .... $20 a month..."

    2. For our organization, this is not necessarily the cheapest way to fundraise -far from it - but we do value the political and issue education we give to people we do stop and talk with. Moreover, I'm much happier working for an organization that has 1,000's of people contributing $20 than 20 people contributing $1,000's and I think it increases our political power. Also, not being as tied down by foundations for money increases our effectiveness because we can actually work on issues that people care about (and if they don't care about them, they won't give us money and we will have to either fold or pick a new issue)

    I'd give more

    I'd give more to an organization that promised to spend none of it harassing me in the future. The constant phone calls, letters, and unwashed losers with clipboards have definitely reduced my charitable giving. It seems like they probably didn't even break even after paying for that crap, so I'm not really helping anyway.

    I lie

    By on

    The confrontation and self-righteousness never fails to make me angry, but snapping at/ ignoring these kids is never satisfying, nor does it make them relent. Instead, with a smile, I tell Jr. that his friend caught me yesterday (or this morning, or in Harvard Square, etc.). Shuts them up every time, makes them feel warm and fuzzy inside, and I calmly walk away.

    One of my favorite opening

    By on

    One of my favorite opening lines recently in JP was "How do you feel about McDonald's?" Really? You're walking up to a woman with a baby on her arm in JP and you expect to get into an interesting discussion as a result of that opening? I stopped and looked at her and just asked what her angle was. Is one signing a lease on Centre St? Nope, they were just petitioning for McD's not to market to kids. I'm all for that, but please, know your audience!

    I was accosted by them too

    By on

    There were surrounding City Feed and Purple Cactus, tables and everything - not just clipboards. I was so baffled by the question I just kind of recoiled from the girl. Probably with a "Help, crazy person!" look on my face. I didn't even ask what they were actually trying to do.

    I mean, "What do you think about McDonalds?" I've been a vegetarian for 20 years, I don't think about them at all. They are a non-entity in my life. I worked in Davis Square for 2 years and never noticed I was walking past one every day until a co-worker mentioned he was getting lunch there.

    In Davis, at least the groups seemed to take turns and rotated during the week. Someone was out every day, but only one group at a time. In JP, there are often two or three different groups of at least 4 people out.

    And I should mention that over a decade ago I did door-to-door canvasing for MASSPIRG for about 3 weeks. I was pretty terrible at it and quit. But I do know that - at least at that time - the canvassers took home about 40% of whatever they brought in.

    This generally works

    I would imagine they have a pretty fundamental First Amendment right to be out there asking for money, unless one could make the argument that they are operating a business rather than asking for charity, in which case I would imagine that you could require them to have a license just like you require the guy selling scarves on the street to have a license.

    They are, I believe, usually employees of a commercial for-profit fund-raising company and not volunteers working with the charity they represent.

    I usually just tell them the

    By on

    I usually just tell them the only children I help have 4 legs and a tail that wags... it stumps them for a minute and then they chuckle.

    That doesn't work any more

    By on

    I always either really call someone or just pretend. They interrupt my phone calls now! I'm not even speaking English on the phone!

    Clipboard Nazis

    By on

    Clipboard Nazis. Some of them, usually male, are overly aggressive. One even insulted me to get my attention, which for them is always full-blinders-on ignore. If I ever get touched by one for any reason I'm coming out swinging in "self-defense." Hate 'em.

    The male Clipboard Nazis are

    By on

    The male Clipboard Nazis are always insulting me, I've been called a bitch more times than I can count. One guy even insulted the way I walk (I have a minor deformity that affects my stride.) Only one of the female clipboard nazis has ever insulted me. It's almost always the men. And I unfortunately work in Copley Square so I have to deal with this crap every single day.

    Boston City Council Ordinance Against Aggressive Solicitation

    The ordinance defines aggressive solicitation as "approaching or following pedestrians, repetitive soliciting despite refusals, threatening or intimidating behavior, unwanted physical contact or the intentional blocking of pedestrian and vehicular traffic."

    Furthermore, the ordinance restricts any solicitation within ten feet of any ATMs or bank entrances or exits, on the grounds that solicitations in these areas are "especially troublesome because of the enhanced fear of crime in those confined environments."

    Penalties for violation of the ordinance include a $50 fine for the first offense and a $100 fine for subsequent offenses, or court-determined community service hours.



    By on

    I had no idea. I've called city hall about people blocking traffic to panhandle or collect for their nonexistent track team or sell copies of the Herald, and they've told me it's not illegal.

    Of course, the people at the mayor's hotline also regularly ask what city you're calling about, then you say "uh, Boston," and they say "OK, but which city?"

    Thanks for posting this

    By on

    If I'd known this when one of the Copley canvassers followed me across the street, and into the CVS where I was was shocked to see him coming at me in the feminine hygiene aisle, I would have asked someone to call the police. I simply asked him to stop following me, firmly, and left the store immediately. This was about 3 years ago and I figured it must have been a tactic he was trained to do. But oof, did I feel threatened by that one.

    next time you see Helen

    By on

    next time you see Helen selling Spare Change News in her spot in front of JP Licks (or one of her many other posts around the city) be sure to stop and introduce yourself-- whether you give a dollar or not I guarantee you it will be the highlight of your day, and you will begin to seek her out in the future. She is such a beautiful person, I wish she were out there every time I walked by....

    i agree that the others can be annoying, but so what? You're an adult.... walk by, say no, cross the street, pretend to be on your phone. It's over the top and suburb-y to just say "we shouldn't have to deal with these people". It's a city, deal with people.

    One canvasser gave me a hard

    One canvasser gave me a hard time after I passed him by and then stopped to buy a paper from my regular Spare Change guy on Winter Street. When I paused to talk to the seller, the canvasser yelled at my back, "Oh, you just HAD to stop and talk to HIM, didn't you?"

    Cell Phone

    By on

    As soon as I see a solicitor in JP or anywhere, I quickly grab my cell phone and have a very dramatic conversation with myself. Usually something like...don't I have a say in the life of this child?! Works every time.

    Walk around listening to

    By on

    Walk around listening to music (if you're really desperate, just leave the earphones on and the music off) and check your phone whenever you happen to see one. Yeah I'm pro at this.

    I love the fake, gravely

    By on

    I love the fake, gravely disappointed looks these kids give you when you say, "Not today" or whatever your excuse is. What good acting!

    I think they induce rage in some of us because it's a daily, unpleasant occurence. It's easy to say ignore them and move on, but it's weird to have feelings of resentment towards strangers on the street. I don't know these kids, but I want nothing to do with them, and resent them and whoever it is they report to for setting up the interaction.


    Then when you hear their stupid mutterings after you ignore them, they think you CAN'T hear because of the earbuds, so ignore that too, or just sing along to the song that isn't even playing in your ears.

    Another favorite tactic of mine to the lilly-white clipboard carriers is three golden words: "No Speakie English"

    Another thing I do:

    By on

    I just say to them in unaccented English: "Sorry, I don't speak English".

    Ugh, I get the same thing in

    Ugh, I get the same thing in the Mass Ave/Boylston St area. When I'm running in heels, clutching a portfolio, do NOT try one of your lines on me!

    A popular one I see is "Wow, I haven't seen you in forever!" Asses.

    I also had one guy argue with me when I was running for a bus at Central. "There will be other buses!" while blocking my path. If I miss my once-every-90-minutes bus, I WILL beat you with your own clipboard.

    Oh, the answer to this

    By on

    is simple. I give them a glowering look of hate and spit on the sidewalk in front of me, staring them straight in the eyes while I do it and then crack my knuckles. Works every time. Do it when they look at you and open their mouths, but before they get a word out.

    I mainly feel sorry that these kids are stuck ....

    ... with such a lousy job. This doesn't make me want to give any money, but I think it scary that so many people in Boston in general (and on this group, in particular) have such simmering rage -- and it isn't even all that hot out yet.

    Life is Good

    By on

    Life must be good if you have time to worry about this and post so many items about it. Imagine if you spent as much energy actually helping an organization(s) raise some money.

    Obstructing, really?

    I see lots of empty concrete walkway between the two blue-shirted solicitors and the picnic tables.