Charity bag household donations sold abroad, says BHF

Charity shops The BHF said householders had a right to know what happened to their donations

Related Stories

Only a third of items donated to door-to-door charity bag collectors end up in high street charity shops, with most being sold abroad, it has been claimed.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF), which carried out the research, urged transparency from commercial firms used by charities for collections.

The BHF said the companies kept donated goods and resold them for profit.

But the firms said they were completely open and provided a vital service to small charities.

They also argued there was an important difference between legitimate operators, which donate an agreed sum of cash to the charity, and "bogus collectors" who keep the money they make.

The BHF said many charities do deals with commercial companies which collect door to door for them with bags carrying the charity's logo, with donated goods often sold on abroad for profit.

The BHF's research said, in some cases, charities got £50 to £100 per tonne of goods collected - but the items could sell overseas for anything up to £1,800.

As little as 5% of the cash could end up being paid to good causes, the BHF added.

Start Quote

There are about 200,000 charities in the UK and less than 1% of them have the resources to set up shops”

End Quote Michael Lomotey Clothes Aid

A poll of 2,000 people by the BHF suggested 70% of the charity bags received by an average householder were actually from commercial companies, which were working with charities.

The increase in such home collections has led to an estimated loss of donations made directly to BHF shops worth £4.6m in the last two years, the charity said.

BHF retail director Mike Lucas said : "It is vital commercial companies act responsibly and be transparent on their charity bags - particularly around how much profit the named charity will actually make from a collection.

"Although this is a legal way to raise money, companies working for commercial gain are a huge problem for charities with high street shops.

"BHF shops do not work with these companies and because of this 100% of the profits made from charity bag donations stay with the charity - helping us continue our lifesaving work."

One company, Clothes Aid, said it asked UK householders to donate clothing using its official collection bags and was totally transparent about its operation.


Michael Lomotey, from Clothes Aid, said charities which worked with the company got about 94% of the profits it raised, after costs.

"There are about 200,000 charities in the UK and less than 1% of them have the resources to set up shops - so being able to out source these type of collections is a good way of fundraising," he said.

Mr Lomotey added: "Not everyone has money to spend, like the British Heart Foundation does, on a bank of shops."

Clare Glascott, from another collection company, care2collect, said it collects household items for an agreed sum of £50 per tonne to the charities.

But she pointed out the company ran the entire service, including distributing and collecting sacks and processing donations, adding: "For the size of the charities we work with, it's a no-brainer for them."

Ms Glascott said care2collect, which works with the National Blind Children's Society and Action for Children, clearly labelled its collection bags and provided background information on its website.

Responding to the BHF's concerns, she added: "If there was a conflict with the companies like ourselves, it would be the charities that lose out."

Both Clothes Aid and care2collect said the issue of unscrupulous, bogus operators had become more prominent in the last few years.

The BHF released the findings in support of their Big Donation campaign for September, appealing for items with which to stock their 670 shops nationwide.


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    I, for one, welcome all these so called "charity bags" that come through my door - bring more of them I say.

    I use them as bin bags. If I want to donate to charity I do so directly to the charity of MY choice and I usually stipulate (which is my legal right) what I want the Charity to spend my donation on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    Well said BHF,it's time we wised up and made sure our donations only go to Charities who benefit 100% from them. Disgraceful that some councils have stopped charities from using their sites. As for opening hours, there's always Saturday if you can't make weekdays.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    Despite being a regular charity giver, I have a notice on my door stating "No Charity Bags".Most of the charities who put bags out I have never heard of or seen a charity shop. When I donate, I take things to the local hospice shop, because I know their work and trust them. It's sad when we're in a state where being on the charity register is no guarantee!

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    I think for 'entrepeneurs' in this example, read 'con men'. It's perfectly reasonable paying wages to employees who enable charities to provide their aims but for people to make profit from charitable donations it takes a special kind of moral malaise. People don't donate so that immoral businessmen can make token donations and keep the rest, people donate to benefit the charities.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    Oh come on, surely only the naive amongst us ever thought that our donations were being collected by volunteers in free vans powered by free diesel. The leeches who make money out of people's goodwill gestures are just another example of that much venerated and worshipped word "entrepreneur". Has society sunk that low? Sadly, some parts of it have. Donate directly or on a Saturday.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    I get several of these plastic bags dropped through our door every week. They go straight into the recycling bin.
    Spare clothes that are any good go to our local hospice charity shop. Anything else gets taken to our local tip that has an old shoes and clothes recycling container.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    Well, well. One just came. It says:

    "### Ltd is a commercial collecting company who provides people in third world countries with clothes for their families they can afford. It provides jobs in third world countries, sorting the clothes for distribution. It provides business for UK export, for transport companies..."

    ...and that has to do with charity WHAT, exactly?

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    When as a charity you have very few volunteers, I can see the attraction in professional fundraisers coming to you and telling that for no effort on your behalf, they will will go and present you with a cheque at regular intervals - from a charities perspective who wouldn't.
    we did part company with a lass who was a bit like this - she did so many events and only just about broke even- not for us!

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    It's behaviour like this that confirms my distrust of all charities and my choice never to give anything to charity. Too much of what is donated goes to fat cat managers and directors or is syphoned off by unscrupulous collection agents. It's high time the charity commission put a stop to this disgraceful practice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    Sorry,but isn't there a crime being committed here? Those who are selling on these items for massive profits seem to me to be involved in a fraud. There should be a criminal investigation. Remember that the people who are suffering are the ones who should have benefitted from the full value of the 'sale' of these goods.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    How about issuing 'charity bonds' ? Investments issued risk free allowing charities to 'borrow' money and offer investors a decent return tax free.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    I visited a town in the Czech Republic that is twinned with my home town. Its a really small place, and not really well known in the UK, but in its main street were two shops advertising themselves as selling "Second Hand British Clothes" so its either come from our own charities, or those dodgy collections that come through the letter box.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    I get at least 1 bag a week, sometimes 2 or 3, through my mailbox. I never leave them on the doorstep - you just can't be sure where they go. Another con is those boxes of overpriced sweets or wristbands you sometimes see in offices. Once the manufacturer of the goods takes their cut, very little goes to the charity. Best to donate direct to a charity you care about. And oh yes, avoid chuggers!

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    49 Minutes ago

    Typical Labour lefty policy, no doubt it would be against their human rights to force any sort of regulation on these crooks and their asylum seeker friends?


    If HYS ran an article on rising sea levels, you would blame the left and and assylum seekers.

    Mind blowing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    If you are either shocked or surprised by this ‘news’ then you are really green about matters of the world.
    Most charity shops put aside things for the dealers; the other junk is kept to make the shop look busy.
    Whatever happened to good old jumble sales?

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    This is why I never use those bags. I don't blame the charities, because they are getting ripped off just as much as the donators are & it is nothing short of stealing on behalf of those companies. A disgrace & it should be made ilegal because people think that the goods they donate will either go directly to people who need them or that all the profits go to the chairty. Use the bags as binliners

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    Have you seen the headquarters of most of these charities. Whilst I don't expect them to operate from a hut they are just big businesses nowadays, especially the medical ones, who pray on people's guilt and sense of good. Sure they do some good work, but at what cost ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    I gave up on these scams long ago. The charities don't even collect the bags when they say. (these now make excellent litter bins). If I want to donate then it goes directly to the shop. What with this and the charity muggers on the street charities are getting a bad name nowadays. Anyone who employs 'chuggers' will not get a contribution for me. Simples !

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    re 51. Bardro - remember smaller charities very often fall beneath the limits for reporting. We audit our accounts each year and write reports but can no longer upload them onto the commissions website. A shame really as we put the time in and like people to be able to see where the money goes (even if it is mainly to the vets!)

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    Grahamzz1, saying that 90% of costs should get to benefactors is short sighted and naive. I work as a science researcher for CRUK. The lab work we do is very expensive, and we get paid a reseasonable wage, but it will much a lot of expense until the research gets to the patients. Do you suggest we work for free, or just pay towards already existing, inefficient cancer drugs instead?


Page 5 of 9


More UK stories



Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.