Tin-rat­tlers un­der fire

Clas­sic show vis­i­tors warned about char­ity col­lec­tion agen­cies that keep 60% of the col­lected cash for them­selves. CCW in­ves­ti­gates

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - News Analysis - Tom Sey­mour

‘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


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