Some charities will put house-to-house collection sacks through your letterbox for your convenience. It should clearly state on which day of that week they will collect items in your street. Here are some things you need to know before you donate this way.

Are all the house-to-house collection sacks the same?

No. There are different types of organisations collecting house-to-house:

  • Charity shops that will collect the items and sell them in their shops. All the money from the sale of your donated items will go directly to the charity.
  • Commercial organisations that collect items on behalf of a charity. Often the charities entering into these partnerships don’t run charity shops and the commercial organisation collecting on their behalf is only interested in clothing. The charity receives a small proportion of the profit from the sale of your donations. If you look at the sack carefully, it should state which commercial organisation is doing the collection and roughly how much will be going to the charity.
  • Commercial organisations not working with any charity. These organisations not working with a charity might lead you to believe they are helping people in developing countries when what they are really doing is selling the clothing for their own profit. These are what we call bogus collections.

How can I make sure the most money goes to charity?

  • Check that the charity does not work in partnership with a commercial organisation.
  • If the charity has shops in your area and there is no mention of a commercial organisation collecting on their behalf, it is very likely donations will go directly to one of the shops.
  • The best way to ensure the most money from your donations goes to a charity is to donate directly to a charity shop.

How can I check the charity collecting is a legitimate charity?

  • If the collection sack looks dodgy, it is most likely bogus.
  • If your are not familiar with the charity please always check the charity’s registration number. You need to check with the Charity Commission if you are in England, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator if you are in Scotland or the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland if you are in Northern Ireland.
  • If you are giving your items to a profit making organisation collecting on behalf of a charity, you should check their company registration number on the Companies House website. Also check the registration number of the charity they are working in partnership with to make sure at least some of the money from your donation goes to charity. See the section above for the best way to ensure the all the money goes to charity.

I don’t want to donate via a collection sack this time, what can I do with the plastic bag?

Some charities might be able to collect the empty plastic bag, but many won’t as this would be time consuming and costly to the charity. Please reuse the plastic bag. For instance you could use your bag for the next time you donate items directly to a charity shop (even if you choose to donate to a different charity!).

The bag with my donations has not been collected by the charity, what can I do?

In the rare case where your bag of donation has not been collected, please, contact the charity as soon as possible to report it. Most collection sacks will include a telephone number.

Alternatively, contact the charity’s main number and they will pass your call to the right department.

I have seen someone in an unidentified van collecting my bag of donations. They may have been stolen. What can I do?

Some charities might not have branded vans, but the drivers will always carry an ID. If in doubt, please, ask for an ID.

If the driver does not provide an ID it is likely they don’t work for the charity. Do not try to confront this person as it could be dangerous. Try to make a note of the van registration plate if you can and contact the police immediately. Please, also contact the charity to report this so the charity is aware that this is happening.