Tin-rattlers under fire
Classic show visitors warned about charity collection agencies that keep 60% of the collected cash for themselves. CCW investigates
‘If you gave £10, probably around £4 of that is actually going to a charitable cause. The third-party collection sector is badly policed’
Classic car show visitors are being warned about dubious charity collections at some events – as a prominent classic show organiser speaks out against the practice of charities using third-party collection companies. He claims they are profiteering by taking advantage of visitors’ generosity.
The collection agents, which are legal in the UK, can be appointed by charities to collect funds at events but some are known to take up to 60% from what has been donated for ‘administration’ and staffing.
The event organiser, who asks not to be named, says: ‘There are certain businesses looking to make a profit on charity collecting. I wouldn’t let them do it at my shows because all charity collections have to be done directly through the charity and 100% of it has to go to the organisation, but some are looking to take money off the top. I’m not suggesting this is a scam. I’m just not comfortable with it.
‘The classic car industry is a quarter of a billion pound business anually, so I’m not surprised some people are trying to get a chunk of that by doing this.’ He urges classic car enthusiasts and fellow show organisers to remain vigilant against dubious collection agents.
A spokesperson for the NEC Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show says the event has a policy in place to restrict the number of collections.
She says: ‘Each year, we find out from the clubs which charities they are supporting and create a shortlist of specified charities for clubs who want to just rattle tins at the show – this was introduced to minimise the impact on visitors being asked to give to a vast number of different charities by different clubs during their visit.’
All charities at the NEC show must have sealed collection tins and recognisable branding to deter fraudsters. All charity collection licences must be submitted to the organisers before they are allowed to operate at the Birmingham venue.
According to the Institute of Fundraising 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.
Help For Heroes, a charity that is often nominated as a chosen charity at classic car events, does not use third-party agents to collect on its behalf. All fundraisers have to be volunteers and need to possess a certificate of authority from the charity, as well as a licence from the local authority.
Gina Miller, True and Fair Foundation charity transparency campaigner, says: ‘Many of the large charities use third parties and are appointing third party collection agents to take money at events for them and these agents are taking up to as much as 30% from the total raised. It’s a widespread practice across the UK.
‘If you gave £10, probably around £4 of that is actually going to go to a charitable cause. It is legal for a charity to use a collection agent, but these agents are not being up-front with how much they are taking. The whole third-party collection sector is really badly policed and there is currently no register to check to see whether they are legitimate or not.’
One example of a third-party collection charity is Real Fundraising. It works with charities in the UK for door-to-door collections. It has worked with Cancer Research UK, Oxfam and the British Red Cross. We approached Real Fundraising for a quote regarding third-party fundraising at classic car shows, but it did not respond. A spokesman from the Government’s Charity Commission says third-party agencies can register with the Public Fundraising Association but there is no legal requirement to do so.
He says: ‘The Charity Commission doesn’t regulate fundraising practices. It would be for Parliament to decide whether to extend our remit.’
Miller says those making donations should not be put off from supporting charities, but should ask more questions before handing over their