I imagine that most motorists’ response to the question, “Would you like to have 150-pound objects darting in and out of traffic when you are stopped at a red light?” would be, “Of course not! Are you crazy?”
Why, then, do enlightened communities allow solicitors for various alleged charities to engage in this ill-conceived—and dangerous—means of fundraising?
It is difficult to establish the legitimacy of an organization in an exchange in traffic lasting a few seconds, but even assuming that all such traffic peddlers are soliciting for bona fide charities, is this the best means of doing so?
Money solicitations should be made face-to-face or through the mail rather than exerting pressure on a potential contributor to fork over cash on the spur of the moment. Perhaps some do not feel that the matter is a big deal, given that a mere dollar is given in most situations so as to drive the solicitor away to another vehicle, yet I wonder how many generous drivers could state precisely what type of service is provided by the individuals who, for example, simply implore us to “Help Kids (children) With Cancer” with no supporting detail.
Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Guiliani is credited with having eliminated the “squeegee men,” the band of beggars which would clean vehicle windows while individuals were stopped in traffic whether or not they wanted the “service,” serving to extort “contributions” to ensure the driver’s safety. I do not believe the in-traffic solicitors in this area pose the same threat, but the fact is that contributions are made under pressure, albeit subtle.
Legitimate charities would be ideally suited to set up shop outside stores that are willing to have them. This has been the successful and appropriate manner through which the wonderful Salvation Army has remained afloat for decades. If this organization can do it, so can others.