All our members rely on donations from the public to stock the UK’s charity shops, and for many charities, textile banks are a vital source of clothes donations. But they are under threat.
TRAID’s Taking Stock report, launched today, reveals that while an overwhelming majority of textile banks users expect their clothes donations to benefit charities, over two-thirds have no idea that many textile banks are run by commercial companies which profit from their donations.
Many charities depend on the support of local authorities to operate textile banks on council-owned land. However, councils are increasingly asking for substantial fees for the right to operate textile-banks.
Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request show that today, more local authorities in England are now partnering with commercial companies, rather than charities.
If charging expensive fees to place textile banks become the new normal, it poses a serious threat to clothes donations, a vital fundraising avenue for many of our members.
This timely and important research shows that this growing trend is completely at odds with what textile bank users expect with 67 per cent unaware that their donations might benefit a commercial company. When armed with this knowledge, the majority of people have a clear preference for giving their clothes to a charity operator.
88% would prefer to use a textile bank run by a charity, 79 per cent think local councils should award all textile bank contracts to charities and 95 per cent believe textile banks should be clearly labelled to show who profits from clothes donations.
In light of these challenges, TRAID has proposed three common sense and easy to implement recommendations: –
- Greater transparency about who benefits from clothes put into textile banks
- A commitment from local authorities to ensure that at least 60 per cent of textile banks on council-owned land are charity-led
- A commitment from local authorities seeking to raise funds from commercial companies that existing charity textile banks will not be removed
Maria Chenoweth, CEO at TRAID, said, “These recommendations create a fairer solution to suit all parties while continuing the provide the UK public with the opportunity to support charities with their clothes donations, which they so clearly want. We are not asking councils to stop making commercial decisions. We are asking them to ensure that charities are not the victim of commercial decisions.”
We fully endorses each recommendation and will be working with TRAID, and any other charities impacted, to encourage local authorities to listen to residents and improve transparency, while ensuring commercial companies do not squeeze out charity-led textile banks.
To get involved or find out more contact our Head of Public Affairs, Jonathan Mail, or Andrea Speranza at TRAID.