Bogus charity collectors

Some clothing collection bags or leaflets may seem like they're for charity but are actually being carried out by a profit-making company. These misleading materials may not use the words 'registered charity' but instead use pictures or wording that imply that the appeal is charitable, for example 'sick children at Christmas' or 'families in need'.

In some cases, fraudsters have used the name, logo and charity registration number of a genuine charity to appeal for donations and keep the profits. To ensure that your donations reach those most in need, we have compiled some tips for you to determine if they are bogus or not.

Charity collections are more likely to be genuine if they:

  • are raising funds for a specific individually named charity, you should be suspicious of any leaflet that does not state the name of the charity
  • use leaflets that have a registered charity stated on all documents advertising the collection on behalf of the charity
  • look unprofessionally made, badly worded or contains spelling mistakes
  • use leaflets that provide a charity registration number. Most door to door collections will leave their bags at least two days before they collect any donations, allowing you time to check the Charity Commission's online register of charities
  • check the advertising leaflets to make sure that they are using a charity registration number and not a company registration number. You can check company registration numbers on Companies House to confirm that the number is not a charity

If you are concerned about if a collection is genuine you can:

  • try to contact the charity to check that the collection is legitimate
  • see if the leaflet only gives mobile numbers or none at all as this could be a sign that they are not collecting on behalf of a legitimate charity
  • give your donations directly to your local charity shop or any official clothing points
  • get your friends and neighbours involved, and contact your Neighbourhood Watch

Behaviour of collectors

Genuine charity collectors should be happy to answer questions and give further information. Some methods of fundraising (for example face-to-face fundraising, or approaching the public in the street) can make people feel uncomfortable.

If you are concerned by the behaviour of the collector, then you should contact the charity directly. All charities should have open and accessible complaints procedures to deal with these issues.

If you are not satisfied with the response from the charity, then you can complain to the Fundraising Standards Board, which deals with complaints about fundraising activity.