In the UK, charities lose an estimated £15 million each year through the theft of charity bags or by fraudulent collections. In some cases it is straight forward theft, in others fraudsters are running bogus collections themselves, claiming that donated goods will go to charities.
Remember that the majority of collections are legitimate and charities rely heavily on this for income and stock for their shops where they have them.
Donating safely through charity bags
Many charity supporters are now understandably nervous of donating goods in this way. But this leads to an even greater loss of income for charities.
Here’s our advice to give safely using charity bags:
Look for the charity’s details on the bag
Legitimate charity collection bags will feature the charity’s details and registered number on the bag. For charities who are members of the FRSB, look for our distinctive ‘tick’ logo too.
If you want to check the details, you can look up UK registered charities on the Charity Commission’s website. For Scottish charities, check out the OSCR and visit the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland for charities based there.
Look for the disclosure
If the charity is using a commercial organisation then the bag must have a disclosure statement on it which clearly outlines how much of the collection’s proceeds are going to the charity and how much is going to the company.
Look for the FRSB tick logo
If the charity is a member of the FRSB, their materials should include the tick logo. This means the charity has signed up to follow the highest standards in fundraising and is regulated. See which charities are members.
Don’t put your bag out too early
Try to put the bag out on the day of the collection, to discourage theft.
What to do if you suspect something
If you have suspicions that your charity bag was stolen or that a ‘charity’ collection bag you have received is not legitimate, here’s who to contact:
- Theft of charity collection bags should be reported to your local police.
- Suspected bogus collections can be reported to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
- Report any concerns about charity clothing collections, make a complaint to us.
How issues with charity bag collections are being addressed
The police and trading standards are tackling the issue and collating intelligence to minimise this crime.
At the FRSB, we are monitoring public complaints and working with the Institute of Fundraising to make sure charities have access to best practice guidance for household collections.
What to do if you are not happy with a charity fundraising in this way?
Call the charity to discuss any feedback about their fundraising. They will want to hear your views.
If you are still unhappy or you want to speak to an independent body, then you can come to the Fundraising Standards Board. Call us on 0333 321 8803 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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