Heart charity warns against donation bags

A CHARITY is warning locals that as few as one in three items donated via the bags dropped through letter boxes actually ends up benefiting a good cause.

Research by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) has found that around only 30 per cent of items handed in during door step collections stand any chance of ending up in a charity shop.

According to the study, more than two-thirds of the stash collected across East Sussex actually ends up in the hands of commercial companies which tie-up with charities to make cash, usually by selling the donated clothes overseas.

These findings will no doubt come as a surprise to the many people across Eastbourne who regularly give to charity using the delivered carrier bags – including many who are too elderly to drag the bits and bobs down to the actual store.

The BHF found 52 per cent of locals polled were oblivious to the existence of these commercial companies and were giving in the mistaken belief that everything went to charity.

The reality, according to the charity, is that in some cases as little as five per cent is paid to a charity who is working with the commercial company.

Staff at the BHF’s Eastbourne store, in Terminus Road, are now urging people to pay more attention to the bags being offered for collections, or to local charity shops to arrange collection. And they are quick to point out that an up-surge in donation bags from money-making firms has had a negative impact on other charities.

Nationally, BHF shops have seen a 36 per cent drop in household collections, with an estimated loss of around £500,000 to the charity in the south east alone over the last two years.

Mike Lucas, a BHF spokesman, 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 in Eastbourne 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 per cent of the profits made from charity bag donations stay with the charity – helping us continue our life-saving work.”

Among the advice being offered by the BHF is to either take donations directly to the shop, check the ID of people dropping off collection bags and carefully read the bags to see they say what percentage of the proceeds go to charity.