What is TRUST?
TRUST is a scheme which provides certification to companies that purchase goods from charity retailers and other entities (e.g. local authorities, textile recyclers / collectors / sorters / graders). Typically these would be collectors of goods for recycling and/or resale, but the scheme applies to any of the Charity Retail Association’s corporate members that purchase items from our charity members.
Although many such companies are highly reputable organisations, sadly some do not live up to these high standards. TRUST is a scheme which aims to separate the one from the other in an objective and transparent way, giving charities the confidence that their goods will be collected in a timely manner, that they will be paid promptly, and that the traders are obeying the law and upholding high standards in their operations. Behind TRUST is an audit process that looks at the areas of sound business practice, health and safety, working conditions, environmental sustainability, and compliance with transport regulations.
How does the scheme work?
Obtaining TRUST status is a 2 stage process.
- After applying for TRUST status and providing relevant information, the TRUST administrator will carry out a series of background checks. If these are passed, the process can proceed to the full audit stage.
- The full audit will be carried out by an external auditor on the company’s premises. The result of the audit can be a full pass, a pass subject to certain remedies being completed within agreed timescales, or a fail.
How much does it cost?
The cost of certification is £2800, with 50% payable at Stage 1 and 50% at Stage 2. Certification once granted will normally last for two years.
Who administers the scheme?
The TRUST scheme is administered by the TRUST forum and further details can be found on the TRUST website, here: https://www.trustmerchants.org.uk/. The scheme is not administered by the Charity Retail Association.
How is my Charity Retail Association corporate membership affected by TRUST?
From April 2022, companies that wish to be corporate members of CRA will need to have TRUST certification, or will need to have started the process of certification and applied and paid for Stage 1 of background checks.
What does this mean in practice for EXISTING corporate members?
If you are already a corporate member who purchases from charity retailers you must have applied for TRUST status and paid the fee for the Stage 1 background checks in order to next renew your corporate membership. You must then complete the full audit successfully by the end of 2022.
What does this mean in practice for NEW corporate members?
If you are a company that purchases from charity retailers and would like to join CRA as a corporate member you must have completed Stage 1 of the process, including paying the initial fee, before you will be admitted as a corporate member. This fee is additional to your corporate membership fee and is non-refundable in the event of you failing the background checks.
Assuming you pass the checks and are admitted into CRA corporate membership you will then have a year to pass Stage 2 of the process, during which time you will have full access to the CRA corporate membership benefits. If at the end of the year’s grace period you have not reached TRUST status you will be asked to leave CRA membership, unless the delay has been outside of your control.
What are the benefits to a trader of TRUST status?
It is important to realise that obtaining TRUST status is not simply a hoop you must jump through to remain or become a CRA corporate member. There are many benefits additionally, whether or not you work with charity retailers:
- Over time, increasing numbers of charities and local authorities will refuse to work with recyclers and collectors who do not have the TRUST standard. Many of the largest charities have already declared this intention
- You will have the comfort of knowing that your standards have been certified in a transparent and objective way, and that an external auditor has approved your processes
- It’s a differentiating selling point for a trader’s services, and the TRUST logo can be used on all your publicity and promotional material
- It’s a way of showing customers, staff and material suppliers alike the quality of your business practices and the extent to which you are a reputable organisation