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1 Sep 2011

Reaction to British Heart Foundation statements about collection statistics
31 August 2011

Clothes Aid was involved in various press comments following a British Heart Foundation
survey released on 31 August which stated that: “New research by British Heart
Foundation shops shows that as little as a third (30%) of items donated to charity via
letterbox charity bags stand a chance of ending up in charity shops”.

The British Heart Foundation findings, launched in advance of a major fundraising drive
this month, also assert that in some cases as little as 5% is paid to a charity who is
working with a commercial company.

Clothes Aid, as the largest commercial charity bag collection company in the UK, which
currently works with eight main charities around England, Scotland and Wales, was asked
to comment and debate the findings.

Press links can be found at:
BBC Radio 4 Today: „Charity‟s doorstep collection warning‟
BBC News: „Charity bag household donations sold abroad, says BHF‟
BBC News, Beds, Herts & Bucks: „Charities „losing out‟ to doorstep collections‟
The Scotsman: „Charity firms accused of lining their pockets with „bag‟ appeals‟
Third Sector: „British Heart Foundation calls for more transparency in clothing collections‟

Third Sector: „British Heart Foundation views on clothes collections dubbed „strident and
Guardian Money: „Charity bags collected on doorsteps „sold abroad for profit‟
Society Guardian, Society daily: „On my radar…‟
Civil Society: „Concerns raised that BHF criticism of commercial collections damages
public confidence‟

Clothes Aid spokesperson, Michael Lomotey, appeared on many media channels on
31 August defending the position of legitimate commercial clothing collection companies:

“We work on behalf of charities which may not be in the position of being able to fund
high-street retail shops. We give a guaranteed amount to each charity per year and so far
have raised over £4.5m for our partner charities in the last few years.

“Statistics-wise, up to 94% of the profits raised goes to our charity partners once
overheads have been accounted. This is comparable to the overhead situation of many
other charities. The British Heart Foundation asserts that it would like commercial clothing
collection companies to act responsibly and be transparent on their charity bags.
We always advise the public that they should look for the registered charity number
on the bags that arrive through their door. Without that registered charity number, you
know you are dealing with a bogus collector and you should not fill that bag assuming it
will go to charity.”

Karen England, Fundraising Director for Make-A-Wish Foundation UK®, commented in
Third Sector (1 Sep 2011): “The BHF is taking a very strident and negative view on this,
and that risks harming public confidence in charity bags.” The charity made a statement

that it had made more than £700,000 from working with Clothes Aid since 2006, with the
costs involved in the collections being covered by Clothes Aid up front.

Paul Amadi, Fundraising Director of the NSPCC, commented in Civil Society (1 Sep 2011):
“As is the case for the vast majority of charities, NSPCC doesn‟t have a string of shops so
the [£1.7m raised by Clothes Aid since 2009] is a significant amount of income which
would otherwise have been denied to us. What appeals about our relationship with our
commercial collector [Clothes Aid] is that all of the costs are absorbed by them, meaning
that the NSPCC can invest further sums into our work. Particularly during these
economically uncertain times, the sector needs to be doing all it can to encourage giving
and avoid the risk of creating cynicism about fundraising which is a real possibility.”

Pauline Tanbini, Children‟s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS)‟s Retail Manager,
commented in The Scotsman (1 Sep 2011): “Supporters are made well aware all items
collected by Clothes Aid are sold through the CHAS shops or overseas to raise money for
CHAS. Since Clothes Aid began its partnership with CHAS it has raised over £230,000
which is the equivalent of running two charity shops without the overheads.”

Seb Elsworth, Director of Strategy at ACEVO, linked from Society daily, The Guardian:
“It‟s nonsense for any charity to claim that all of any donation goes to the cause. And it
doesn‟t help anyone to encourage the public to judge [charities] in this way. BHF are right
to stress the need for transparency, but with transparency we should also be leading the
debate about what is of real value when judging a charity. We should be judged on our
impact and the value for money of our work, not on crude measures of inputs. What
matters is how much difference did we make for the money which donators invested in us?
… Charities do and should compete for donations, and sometimes that competition will be
fierce and even dirty. But as the sector grows and becomes increasingly professional we
do all have a shared responsibility to treat the public with a bit more respect and start a
real debate about how effective we really are, or we will all lose out.”


      Clothes Aid was started in 1996 and is the largest commercial clothing collection
       company in the UK. It is a social business meaning that all profits are sent to the
       charity partners it works with or are reinvested in the business for further growth
      Clothes Aid is a fully-licensed fundraiser compliant with all UK Charity Commission
       regulations concerning the collection and sale of used clothing
      Clothes Aid works very closely with police from various authorities and other
       legitimate clothing collection companies and partner charities to crack down on
       bogus collectors
      If you suspect a bogus collector or a theft you can call the Collection Protection
       helpline on 020 7288 8535. Try to note down a description of the individual or
       group, the time and place of the incident and any other relevant details to share with
       the helpline staff
      Look for the Give with Confidence tick of approval from the Fundraising Standards
       Board on leaflets and bags. Reputable clothing collection businesses and genuine
       charities are likely to be members of the Fundraising Standards Board, an
       independent self-regulatory body for UK fundraising, backed by the Office for Civil
       Society, The Scottish Government and the Welsh Assembly Government
      Michael Lomotey, spokesperson for Clothes Aid, will be speaking at the
       Fundraising Standards Board‟s symposium on Charity Clothing Collections on
       Theft Case Studies on Wed 14 September at the Emmanuel Centre, London SW1P

For interviews with a spokesperson from Clothes Aid or for images, please contact:
Jo Moulds, Press & PR Officer, on 020 7288 8538, 07983 514122 or or Michael Lomotey, Business Manager, on 020 7288 8536


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