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Charity donations sold for profit

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31 August 2011

Article from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14724915 31 August 2011 Last updated at 05:53

Charity bag household donations sold abroad, says BHF

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.

British Heart Foundation (BHF) research suggests that many charities use commercial firms to carry out letterbox collections on their behalf.

But, the BHF says, the companies keep the donated goods and then resell them for private profit, making only a small royalty payment to the charity.

It urged transparency from companies.

The BHF said it was "vital commercial companies act responsibly and be transparent on their charity bags".

It said many charities, often those without shops, strike up deals with commercial companies who collect door-to-door for them with bags carrying the charity's logo.

But the donated goods are often sold on abroad for profit.

The BHF's research says that, in some cases, charities receive £50 to £100 per tonne of goods collected - but the goods can sell abroad for anything up to £1,800.

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

A poll of 2,000 people by the BHF showed 70% of the charity bags which are received by an average householder are actually from commercial companies, who are working with charities by selling the donated items overseas and giving them a proportion of the proceeds.

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.

'Transparency vital'

Mike Lucas, retail director for the BHF, 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.

"Householders have the right to know what happens to their donations and currently this information is not clear.

"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."

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.