Better chugging is not necessarily a tech challenge

A while ago I read an article in the Guardian about iPads as a potential route to more effective chugging – street canvassing for charities. The hypothesis was that the problem with chugging was that individual chuggers’ presentation skills are not consistent, and that conversation armed with a clip board was not compelling enough to convert passers-by into on-going charity supporters. I can see the argument that some form of video or slide presentation will be more consistent, and possibly more compelling, but I disagree that the primary problem chugging faces is technological, or even about content. Take a moment and do a bit of ad hoc research, and I’m sure you will get a better picture of why chugging doesn’t result in a high conversion rate. Here are issues I heard from my interviewees:

  • People are pressed for time and do not want to be stopped to engage in a fundraising conversation at that moment
  • Everyone I spoke to is uncomfortable with giving their bank details to a stranger on the street, even if the stranger has an ID card and it is for a good cause
  • People want to have the time and space to consider their on-going charity giving, they do not want to be pressured into making a decision on the street

No one said they thought that seeing a nice video would make them any more inclined to sign up to a direct debit on the street. I think it is a service design question:  is chugging really about getting conversion on the street? If it is, how can it be designed so that potential supporters are not made to feel pressured or suspicious – maybe the street is not the place that conversion takes place, and an overall service can still be designed that recognises the chugger’s contribution to the supporter’s user journey. Or is it a widespread marketing tool that causes greater awareness, ultimately translating into increased giving, but not on the street? In which case, let’s design it as a real conversation, about interaction and learning – or creating the beginning of that new awareness, and a desire to find out more. That is different to a sales moment. The one thing I’m sure of is that the problem is not primarily technological.

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