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Charity collections

A permit is required by anyone collecting money or selling articles for charitable purposes in a public place and it is an offence to hold a collection without one. There are two types of permits:

  • door to door (House to House Collection). A House to House Collection is required for door-to-door collections, as well as collections in public houses (this includes rose-sellers). Charities collecting clothes, bric-a-brac etc. also require a licence.
  • on the street (Street Collection). A Street Collection is required for collection of money or sale of articles for the benefit of charitable purposes in any street or public place.

Bogus collectors

Some clothing collection bags or leaflets may give the impression that they are for charity when in fact the collection is being carried out by a profit-making company. These misleading materials may not use the words 'registered charity' but instead use pictures or wording that imply that the appeal is charitable, for example 'sick children at Christmas' or 'families in need'.

The council has also been made aware of some cases where fraudsters have used the name, logo and charity registration number of a genuine charity to appeal for donations and keep the profits. To ensure that your donations reach those most in need, we have have compiled some tips for you to determine if they are bogus or not:

  • Most genuine collections will be raising funds for a specific individually named charity. You should be suspicious of any leaflet that does not state the name of the charity.
  • If a collection is for a registered charity, legally this must be stated on any document advertising the collection on behalf of the charity. Genuine leaflets will usually provide a charity registration number. Most door to door collections will leave their bags at least two days before they collect any donations, allowing you time to check the Charity Commission's online register of charities.
  • Some advertising leaflets will give the impression that they are from a charity but provide a company registration number. This number is not the same as charity registration number and may be a sign that the organisation is operating commercially for profit and is not charitable.  You can check company registration numbers on Companies House.  This will confirm that the number is not a charity but operating commercially.
  • If for whatever reason you are still unsure about whether a collection is genuine, for example if it looks unprofessionally produced, is badly worded or contains spelling mistakes, and if you still wish to donate then you should try contacting the charity to check that the collection is legitimate. If the leaflet only gives mobile phone contacts or none at all, it may be a sign that the organisation is not collecting on behalf of a legitimate charity.
  • If you are concerned that your donations may not reach a registered charity then you can always give directly to your local charity shop or at any official clothing collection point.
  • Get your friends and neighbours involved, and contact your Neighbourhood Watch.

Complaints

A word of caution - leaflets which appear to be bogus may be genuine after all and vice-versa (eg fakes).  Also, if you do want the collectors caught, you don't want to alert them to the possibility they'll be stopped.

If you think it's an unlicensed collections please contact the licensing team. We can tell you (a) if we have granted a licence for the collection and (b) has it got a 'National Exemption Order' (NEO).  If it's not licensed (or exempt) then it will passed to the licensing enforcement team to investigate further. To assist us with the investigation we would be grateful if you could provide the following: the leaflet or bag -  by (a) sending it to the council (a) or by emailing images by using a computer scanner or mobile phone. To give us the opportunity of catching these individual it would be extremely useful to note down details (such as the vehicle registration number and description of people).

To complain about a misleading leaflet or bag appealing for clothing donations please contact Trading Standards. After the collection day, you can complain to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) if you think the leaflet or bag was misleading. 

Also, the police may be able to take action themselves using the Fraud Act 2006

Theft of bags:  If you see anyone taking filled bags before the official collector arrives, note details (such as the vehicle registration number and description) and ring the police immediately.

Please also notify the Charity Commission so that they can gather information on offenders and work with their partners to combat and raise awareness of fraud.

Behaviour of collectors

Genuine charity collectors should be happy to answer questions and give further information. Some methods of fundraising (for example face-to-face fundraising, or approaching the public in the street) can make people feel uncomfortable.

If you are concerned by the behaviour of the collector, then you should contact the charity directly. All charities should have open and accessible complaints procedures to deal with these issues.

If you are not satisfied with the response from the charity, then you can complain to the Fundraising Standards Board, which deals with complaints about fundraising activity.

You can also contact the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA).

 

For more information contact Licensing Unit by telephone: Licensing Services - 01634 337107 or 337108 / Enforcement - 01634 337112 or 337106 or by email: licensing@medway.gov.uk

Write to: Licensing Unit, Medway Council, Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham, Kent ME4 4TR