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A Varsity reporter went to a job interview at the HKACC and found the method of calculating salaries had changed. The organisation no longer sets a quota for the amount of money raised. Instead, fundraisers get 30 per cent of the total amount of donations they raise themselves as their daily salary.

The interviewer also told our reporter that fundraisers do not need to work long hours. As long as they are satisfied with the amount of money they earn on any given day, they can go home even if they have only worked for one hour. “Honestly, if you want to earn money and gain experience at the same time, then “more pay for more work,” said the interviewer.

We asked HKAAC to respond to questions about their previous quota system but they had not replied by the time of printing.

Tang and Ho’s brief experience as paid street fundraisers have left them both with contradictory views about how charities should raise money on the streets. Tang thinks it is normal for charities to give commissions in order to increase the incentive for fundraisers while Ho says that setting quotas is a way to ensure fundraisers’ work performance and the amount of donations raised. Yet, both have been left with a bad impression of charities after finding out that street fundraisers are actually paid.

More and more charities, like the Hong Kong Red Cross (HKRC) and  Greenpeace are using paid street fundraisers to persuade people to join monthly donation schemes. These donation schemes give the organisations a more stable income to fund service maintenance and future development.

“It is difficult for volunteers to make long-term commitments,” Winnie Wang, the Head of Communications and Resource Development Department of HKRC, says. For example, it is hard to ask volunteers to work from 9 a.m. to 6p.m. every day as they may not always be free. HKRC’s street fundraisers are all full-time workers.

One non-government charitable organisation employee, who wants to be referred to only as Phoebe, agrees that charities cannot just rely on the availability of volunteers, especially when they really need money for projects. Recruiting street fundraisers, which is a common practice in Europe, the U.S.A. and Australia, may be the fastest way to raise money.

Phoebe also says that many charities are adopting modern management strategies and are trying to broaden their sources of income. Employing street fundraisers is just one way to get more donations. However, it can be an important method for small charities because they do not have the resources of large charities to organise big shows and events like the Tung Wah Charity Show and the Standard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon.