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   Inside Out - South: Monday 3rd March, 2003


Collection tin
UNDERCOVER EXPOSE | one southern company is named and shamed

Inside Out investigates and exposes a company that claims to collect for charity.

The company targets bars and pubs of the south and are scamming the public out of thousands of pounds.

It is not unusual to find organisations appealing for donations in public places - even pubs and bars. Alcohol may make you more generous, but it may also cloud judgement.

Inside Out investigates one organisation who are believed to be conning the public out of thousands of pounds.

The organisation under investigation is Nightingale, based in the south of England. The company claims to be collecting for charity, but Inside Out can reveal that only a small percentage of donations actually goes to good causes.

Undercover investigation

Jo Palmer undercover
Jo Palmer went undercover to work at Nightingale

Inside Out sent undercover reporter, Jo Palmer, to work for Nightingale to discover exactly how the company operates.

Jo was sent with an experienced collector to work in the pubs around Oxford.

"In some pubs we asked for straightforward charity donations and in other pubs we were selling glow sticks," she said. "But in both cases, people were told that the majority of the money would be going to charity."

Jo and her fellow collector, returned from a night’s work with more than £400.

"That money was divided between myself, the other collector, the driver and the company," says Jo.

Nightingale had around ten cars out that evening and each of them came back with a similar amount of money.

Pile of pound coins
It is estimated that the company earns £15,000 each week

The collectors go out five nights a week and so the company is believed to be bringing in about £15,000 per week in cash.

Steve Grenfell, head of investigations at the Charity Commission, says he has been aware of Nightingale’s activities for some time and would like to see the company closed down.

"There is no doubt that all that money should go to charity," he said. "Unless the collector says 'I am going to keep x amount' then all of that money should go to charity."

False claims

Nightingale, which has been operating for around three years, sends its collectors out with a large laminated card.

The card lists in bold print eight charities that the company claims to support. It also says that "Nightingale continually aim to donate to a wide variety of national charities."

The small print at the very bottom however, states that "Nightingale is not a charity and does not represent any charity organisation".

Undercover filming
Nightingale claims it is a straightforward sales company

Most of the charities listed have only ever received around £100 from Nightingale, although one charity, the Anthony Nolan Trust, has received several hundred.

Company owner Adrian Williams says that Nightingale is a straightforward sales company which is out to make a profit.

Mr Williams does however donate about £25 per week to charity.

"I do sell flowers in pubs," he said. "I also sell glow products. We don’t collect for any charity organisation. The collection pots are there for safety reasons, to stop anybody from stealing."

The lesson is clear. To ensure your money is being spent where it is intended, only give to reputable charitable organisations. The beer and generosity may be flowing, but unless you want to be lining the pockets of a profit making company - always read the small print!

See also ...

On the rest of the web
Charity Commission
Charity collection cons

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Readers' Comments

We are not adding any new comments to this page but you can still read some of the comments previously submitted by readers.

Nick Day
I belive people should always be looking out for their money. And always try to read the small print.

John Scott
I thought the local council had to give permission to collect, the recent charity I worked for had to seek permission from the Local Council and fill a form in after, informing the council of what was collected.

tom mcaleer
government to pay ex percentage per tax pound raised,,,,,, therefore ending public begging, dont you think?

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