Action Desk: Organisation should give clear information

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Advice from Trading Standards and South Yorkshire Police about charity collections:

Doorstep collections are a useful way for charities to gather donations directly from people’s homes. It’s convenient for the householder and more importantly legitimate charities raise valuable funds for worthy causes.

But in an effort to help, consumers can be duped by unscrupulous businesses collecting for profit with little or no charitable purpose at all.

Leaflets, advising of a forthcoming collection, often give a misleading impression of charitable purposes, when in reality the organiser is a commercial operator for profit.

This is often reinforced by a reference to a registration number, easily mistaken as that of a charity but very often a company number or simply made up. While some companies allege they donate some of the proceeds to charity, such claims are hard to prove and the companies behind the leaflets do not usually last long enough to be investigated before they disappear.

So what should consumers do?

If the organisation is legitimately collecting on behalf of a charity, it should give clear information in its fundraising literature and state how much of your donation actually goes to the charity.

Door to door charity collections should be registered with the local authority as organisations have to have a permit. This can be checked by contacting the licensing department of a local authority.

Consumers should look for a registered charity number. If an organisation has a charity number, it must be registered with the Charity Commission, and must operate for fully charitable purposes. Check at www.charitycommission.gov.uk or telephone 0845 300 0218.

Trading Standards advise caution with doorstep collections. Although the activity may not necessarily be illegal, your charitable donation might not be going where you think. Call the Consumer Advice Line for more: 08454 04 05 06.