Former Theater Employee Confirms: There Are Better Ways To Donate Than Via Usher

Christopher Campbell at Cinematical saw our post last week on panhandling movie ushers, and he joined in with his own insider’s perspective on the situation:

At the last place I worked, we unfortunately encouraged ushers to do whatever they could to get as much money as they could. Why? Because the theaters that collect the most get special bonuses, or some other sort of incentives (I forget what exactly). So, some of our staff became quite aggressive with the customers in asking for their coin. They’d make remarks behind the backs of people who didn’t give, for instance, or otherwise attempt to make non-givers feel guilty in some way.

Campbell says he never saw any theft, but he confirms what we guessed, which is that the money collected is only as safe as the ushers and managers at the theater.

I’ve had a few experiences from the inside that should have me discouraging donating in this way even more. I’ve heard first-hand that fellow employees either stole from the cans or joked about stealing from the cans (not that the jokers were guilty, but at least it showed most people acknowledged the ease of such immoral theft). Some even referred to the cans as “the cigarette fund.” Horrible, to be sure, and it probably didn’t end with the minimum-wagers. Rumors abounded at all the cinemas I’ve worked at that managers also skimmed off the top.

Campbell points out that if you want to give money to the Will Rogers Institute or the Jimmy Fund, you can do it just as easily—and in private—via their websites.

“The Exhibitionist: Panhandling Fundraisers” [Cinematical]
(Photo: Getty)