v. To solicit donations and attempt other forms of fundraising while pretending to conduct market research.
Other protests come from the advertising research industry, which is furious about a venerable direct mail gimmick: cloaking a pitch as a survey, pretending that the purpose of a letter is to seek opinions rather than sell a product or raise funds. … 'What drives me crazy is sometimes these are organizations I'm a member of and believe in,' he added, referring to the fundraisers that sell under the guise of research. The foundation even has a name for such trickery, 'frugging.'
—Stuart Elliott, “You've Got Mail, Indeed,” The New York Times, October 25, 1999
1991 (earliest)
Although survey participation among the American public was at a record high of 42 percent last year, refusal rates were also at a record high of 36 percent, up from 15 percent in 1982. 'Sugging' and 'frugging,' selling and fund-raising under the guise of legitimate marketing research, are among the culprits, according to NFO Research.
—“Death of a Database Hints at Growing Privacy Concerns,” The Numbers News, March 01, 1991
Frug is an acronym that comes from the phrase fundraising under the guise of market research. I managed to date this word to 1991, and the earliest citation suggests that it's based on an existing verb, sug, "selling under the guise of market research" (which I traced back to the mid-80s).
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