Pittsburgh Suburb Tries to Restrict Door-to-Door Solicitors

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no solicitors

June 19, 2014; Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Don’t knock on doors in Baldwin, Pennsylvania to solicit money for a nonprofit unless you’re carrying your registration. Stephanie Hacke reports for the Tribune-Review that Baldwin has passed an ordinance requiring members of nonprofit, religious, and charitable organizations to register with the Baldwin police before they solicit for anything on a door-to-door basis.

Baldwin’s previous solicitation ordinance had covered commercial solicitors who were selling or advertising door-to-door or house-to-house, but exempted political and religious organizations. The new requirement is that nonprofit and charitable solicitors have to submit a criminal record check and a valid driver’s license. In addition, a resident of Baldwin who gets a house-to-house solicitation permit would pay $15 a week, $50 a month, or $75 for three months; a nonresident would pay $10 a day for the privilege of soliciting.

The free speech issues in the Baldwin ordinance virtually jump off the page. After being contacted by a nonprofit that would have had to register 20 people it had recruited to administer a house-to-house survey, the American Civil Liberties Union has contacted the Borough to suggest that the ordinance violates the First Amendment.

With a population of some 20,000, Baldwin Borough’s slogan is, “Just a nice place to live!” Located in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area, Baldwin may be a lovely place, but it is difficult to think of it as a good “nice place” if it enacts laws that violate constitutional free speech protections.—Rick Cohen

  • A Sharp Raiser

    Let’s be honest, Rick
    … Let’s lose the self-righteous fundraising crown-of-thorns for a moment.

    Is this really about free speech? or is this about feeding an organization’s desire to intrude / prosthelytize / get money?
    You want to get inside someone’s home? buy an ad local TV or radio… better yet, get sharp and buy banner ad on one of the 8-million aps they could be using in their home/office right now.

    Short of a federal “Do Not Knock” registry… this local government is doing what they can to minimize (or at least regulate) the intrusions & intruders on it’s citizens’ privacy.

    If I want to support a cause or organization, I have countless other outlets through which to gain knowledge on them (including signing up for ungodly amounts of online solicitations) and eventually donate.

    Anyone knocking on my door better be someone I know & love …or Girl / Boy Scouts selling cookies / popcorn (Love that stuff). Transversely, anyone calling my cell-phone now-a-days better be someone I know & love … or my dentist reminding of my appointment. (Thank you National “Do Not Call” List)

    If the person on my stoop or on the other end of the call, falls outside any of those categories …then it better be a good samaritan telling me my roof is on fire.

    Door to Door fundraising is shown to have the worst retention rates anyway …even lower than direct mail.
    Why would a proper nonprofit care to even engage in this practice?

    It’s not quaint… because one thinks it’s Face to Face with [potential] donors. Nor is It small-town folksy & homey.

    At best, its exploitative of the “paid” canvasser (getting less-than-minimum wage …with the promise of performance bonus/commission)… and intrusive for the home owner.

    Just sayin’

  • akshay pawr

    Raiat is door to door