Check the fine print before you donate

A warning is going out to charity donors in the wake of complaints to the council about fraudulent collections.

Published: Thursday, 7th March 2019

Cherwell District Council recommends anyone thinking of giving to charity using a bag delivered to their home to read the fine print first. The bag should carry the name of a reputable charity and state the percentage of funds that is donated to the organisation.
 
Charities that collect donations of second-hand goods or cash, on the street or door-to-door, need to be authorised by the council. Some unauthorised collections give nothing to charity and even legitimate collections may donate only a small proportion of funds to the named charity. 
 
Cllr Andrew McHugh, Cherwell’s lead member for health and wellbeing, said: “The people of Cherwell district have a generous and giving spirit, so it’s shocking to think that there are some rogue operations out there diverting funds from donations given in good faith for their own ends. 
 
“In most cases the most effective way to donate unwanted clothes or other goods to charity will be to use a donation bank or to visit a charity shop and hand them over to a member of staff in person.  
 
“If you are going to donate using a charity bag that has been dropped off at your house, I would urge you to read the fine print. Check that it is indeed a charitable organisation and if it is, that you are happy with the proportion of funds that is going to charity.”
 
Charity collectors should carry identification and be authorised by the council if they are collecting donations of second-hand goods or cash on the street, or door-to-door. Officers vet the organisations and give them written permission if their collections are legitimate.
 
Those who want to check whether or not collections are legitimate can contact the charity directly, check the charity registration number at The Charity Commission, or the company name at Companies House.
 
And residents can check that a collection has been authorised by the council by contacting the licensing team at licensing@cherwell-dc.gov.uk or 01295 753744. 
 
Charity donation fraud should be reported to the police via 111 or their Action Fraud website: www.actionfraud.police.uk
 
Charity Commission and Companies House searches can be made via www.gov.uk

The law doesn’t require charities collecting direct debit subscriptions to be authorised by the council.