anon: (archaic or literary)
- in a short time; soon

50:50 vision

80:20 insight

Charity collection bags – winners and losers

Do you get charity collection bags through your letter box each week, every day? They’re like confetti where I live. We can get as many as five or six a week, so there is obviously no co-ordination between the charities … or the profit-making companies which run the charity collection schemes.

I have in front of me the bags from eight different charities. They’ve all arrived during November. If I put something in each bag which plops onto the doormat, I’d soon have nothing to wear. And that’s beside supporting the five charity shops in town.

In my pile of bags, I noticed two for air ambulances. The designs were different, but was it the same charity? I started reading the small print to find out.

And what interesting reading it was.

First off, I discovered that most of the charities use a private company to run the collection and disposal service. ‘Age UK’ and ‘The Air Ambulance Service’ don’t say who they use. The net result: some of your donations become the profits taken by company directors.

With that in mind, exactly how much goes to the charity? Cunningly, they don’t all use the same yardstick, so a direct comparison across all eight charities isn’t possible.

In fact, ‘Age UK’ (the joining of ‘Age Concern’ and ‘Help the Aged’) don’t give any indication at all of how much they get from the collection service.

Of the remaining seven, ‘Children’s Hearts’ say 75% of the profits go to the charity, and the ‘Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research’ get “at least £60,000 … each year.”

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock PhotosThe most common benefit statement, quoted by the remaining five charities, is how many £s per tonne collected goes to the charity. Would you be surprised to find the most stingy (‘Cancer Research and Generics UK’) only gets 21% of the top charity (‘The Salvation Army’)?

So, before you next put some old clothes in a charity collection bag, think about where the money goes, and which charity is getting the best value from your donation.

Perhaps the Charity Commission should be insisting on a code of conduct so we can see and compare which charity has cut the best deal. And maybe ask those getting a poor return, why that is. It would be great to think you would all write to them about this.

The table below summarises my findings

On a lighter note, I do know some women (though not in the biblical sense) who could give away a pair of shoes each time they get a collection bag, and not notice for over a year that their shoe collection was getting smaller. No names, no pack drill.


Charity Collection agent Benefit to charity
Age UK (Age Concern & Help the Aged) (none declared) (none declared)
Children’s Hearts Audosta Ltd 75% of profits
Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research East London Textiles At least £60,000 pa
Cancer Research and Genetics UK Audosta Ltd £50 per tonne
Great Western Air Ambulance Local Communities
Recycling Services Ltd
£75 per tonne
NSPCC Clothes Aid (Services) Ltd £80 per tonne
The Air Ambulance Service (none declared) £105 per tonne
The Salvation Army Kettering Textiles Ltd £240 per tonne

Dan ~ More Anon

6 Responses to Charity collection bags – winners and losers

  1. Peter Johnson says:

    I notice that Cancer Research & Genetices UK state that they will donate “at least £3200 every month” and that they “raised over £30,000″last year. What it does not sais how much they actually received for their collected items, it could have been £200,000 (probably not).

  2. Gwen Seller says:

    The company which collects on behalf of Cancer Research & Genetics UK us Recycle Proline Ltd. I agree with you that it is hard to determine if the claim of £3200 donated per month to a charity is a fair return or not.
    I have looked at the charity commissions website and the charity Cancer Research & GUK claim to donate their income to research projects. I have emailed Cardiff University to ask if they are indeed the recipient of research grants from Cancer Research & Genetics UK.
    The truth is the Charity Commission do not have the capacity or the teeth to ensure all charities are genuinely fulfilling their charitable remit.
    Sorry this is long winded but as the chair of a local charity i know we work our butts off to raise money and ensure it supports our beneficiaries and it makes me mad when other charities are scamming the good hearted public.

  3. Soluble Apps says:

    I find the name of “Cancer Reseach and Genetics UK” to be very questionable, as it seems deliberately chosen to dupe the unwary into thinking that the proceeds are going to “Cancer Research”- a better known and respected charity.

    The envelope they put through my door last week even has the “Cancer Research” part of the name picked out in red lettering- which is very misleading.

    I can’t find anything definitive on whether the company is genuine or not, but it makes me question their ethics.

    • editor says:

      This isn’t an area of the collection business I looked at, but perhaps I should. I’ve found the website for CR&GUK – – the ‘News’ on the site hasn’t been updated for nearly 18 months, and it isn’t clear who the donations go to at the moment. I checked them with the Charity Commissioners using their number 1121512. Their accounts show large donations, but don’t say where the money is going – I wonder if there are any checks on that? They (he, Mr Philips) seems to have been rapped on the knuckles for accounting irregularities in the 2012 accounts. There are huge cash reserves (huge for a small operation) of over £43,000.
      It does make you wonder how easy it is to set a charity up, and how stringent the controls are. I believe there ought to be more disclosure of where funds go.

  4. Toren Kinsack says:

    I left out a full Leukaemia charity bag,this morning and asked the driver for ID – East London Textiles. Then googled East London Textiles, and the more-anon website came up. In future, I will take my donations to the local charity shops, as the goods most probably are sold in the actual shop itself and do not go towards making directors of money-making firms even richer!