How can I be sure that the collection leaflet or bag that has been posted through my door is legitimate?

What is not a bogus charity collection?

Before reading the advice below on how to spot a bogus charity collector, it is important to understand what does not constitute bogus charity.

The Textile Recycling Association is becoming increasingly concerned about the mistaken assertion being made by some licensing authorities, websites and some aspects of the media, that charitable collections that are undertaken by less commercially advantageous for the charity than if they were to undertake the collections themselves. This is not the truth.  There are some compelling advantages and safeguards for charities that work with commercial collection partners and this helps to sustain real paid jobs within the recycling industry. Equally there can be substantial commercial advantages for charities that undertake collections themselves. Each charity has to make its own choices as to what option is best for its particular set up. None of the main options used by charities are intrinsically better or worse than the others.

So how do you spot a bogus charity collector?

Unfortunately, there a number of clothing collectors who give the impression that they are collecting on behalf of a charitable or philanthropic cause, but they are actually purely commercial operations.  Some will put out fake leaflets or bags which state the name of a legitimate charity or something very similar.  In addition, some so called “Bogus Charities” put out leaflets/bags where they believe that there is going to be a legitimate charitable collection taking place.  They then take the bags that have been put out for the legitimate charity collection and if caught they use the excuse that they thought that the bags had been put out for their collection.

There are a few simple things that you can do to check whether the collection leaflet or bag that you have received is for a genuine charitable collection. You can:

  • Check to see if the collection purports to support a genuine UK registered charity (with the registration number given).  This should not be confused with other numbers like “Company Numbers” or “Export Numbers” which have no relevance in this case.
  • Check to see if the collection organiser is signed up to the Institute of Fundraising’s Code of conduct or bears accepted kitemarks, such as the FRSB tick or the ACS/IOF membership logo.  Any of these could indicate that the collection is a genuine charitable collection.
  • Check to see whether the named collector is a member of the Textile Recycling Association.  A full list of members is on our website at www.textile-recycling.org.uk/memlist.htm.  This list is kept up to date, so if they claim to be members but their details are not on this page then please contact us.

If the collectors are genuinely members of the Textile Recycling Association then this would be a strong indication that the collection has the correct licences in place and is legitimate.

  • Check with the local authority to see whether the collection is licensed. With the exception of a few big national collection charities, most charitable door to door collectors are required to obtain a licence from the local authority in which they are operating.  To view all the charitable collectors which hold national exemptions in England and Wales, please click here.
  • Contact the charity that the collection will supposedly benefit, as they should be able to tell you if a genuine collection is being done in your area or not.

The Charity Commission (www.charity-commission.gov.uk) provides further guidance on their website about how to ensure that you only donate to legitimate charity collections.

If you suspect that an unauthorised person has collected the clothing that you have put out, you can telephone your local police to report a theft.  If you suspect that a bogus charity collection is taking place you can also contact the Action Fraud Helpline on 0300 123 2040.  If you can remember which charity was meant to benefit you can also call the charity concerned.  Please note that reporting an incident to the Action Fraud Helpline or the local charity does not necessarily mean that it will be reported and investigated by the local police, so we would recommend contacting them as well.