Why you should sack off donations to letterbox charities

2 February 2010

When the lazy slackarses can be bothered to brave the weather, I probably get two or three plastic sacks pushed through my letterbox every week. Working independently of one another, these charities that want my family's second hand clothes fail to realise we don't have an endless stream of clothing we no longer wear, and so their bags are used instead to clean out the cat's litter try.

Avid Bitterwallet reader David suffers the same problem, receiving several pleas and plastic bags from numerous charities every month. The labelling from the latest two looks like this:

Bitterwallet - collecting clothes for charities
In both cases, it isn't the charities in charge of the collections. That's left to private companies; in the first example, SOS Clothes Limited is orchestrating the collections, while in the second it's an outfit called BMJ Limited. Then you notice how much revenue your bags of clothes are generating for the charities:

Bitterwallet - charity clothes donations

Bitterwallet - charity clothes donations 2

£50 per tonne sounds suspiciously low, reckons David, and in fact it is. According to the Children's Society, the same amount of clothing would make between £500 and £800 in net profit in a charity shop, while the international price for good quality second-hand clothes is up to £1,000 per tonne. The reason these bag-pushing charities have become so prevalent is because the price for second-hand textiles has exploded in the past few years - it's more profitable for manufacturers to recycle clothes than produce them from new.

Hence these private companies have cropped up to sell your clothes to textiles manufacturers, throwing a few quid at a heartfelt cause and creaming off the profit along the way. In the case of SOS Clothes Limited, you'll find plenty of online chatter about this outfit; their website states there is an "internal investigation is in progress due to unlicensed and illegal door to door clothing collections".

Of course this isn't a new problem - there have been and still are dozens of scam companies that don't even bother making a donation to charity. That's not to say you say you should distrust every charity asking for a sack of crap from the back of the wardrobe, but as easy as it is to dump a bag on your doostep and let somebody else deal with it, you'll do far more good for charities if you drop it off at one of their three dozen shops on the high street.

TOPICS:   Scams

31 comments

  • Emma
    I got one yesterday from DoNotDelay.org... they all go straight in the bin.
  • Ian
    This is a very good article. Thanks. Bitterwallet is actually getting a lot better.
  • ElBuc
    Yeah, I wasn't aware of this... I can see this escalating.
  • Noghar
    What I don't understand is, why don't main-street charities like Oxfam and MacMillan do their own door-to-door collections instead of moaning about the cowboys? Most people giving away clothes like this, if you tell them the 'charities' involved are fake, merely shrug and say, 'Better than putting them in the bin' which, in a way, it is. High street parking is so hideously expensive and difficult these days anyway, it's not surprising people opt for collection instead of dropping off. If the price for used textiles has gone up so much, surely the legit charities would still make a profit if they sent around their own vans? OK maybe I should tell that to the charities... but I would have thought it was obvious. Anyhow you missed out the real scam hidden in that leaflet: yeah they give £2k a month to the charity 'Tree Of Hope'. But who runs 'Tree of Hope?' And how much do they give to charity - or does most of their income go in 'operating costs' ie buying the directors BMWs?
  • Nobby
    Loads of these are companies rather than charities. I find them useful for bin bags. Sometimes they even take away your rubbish if you box it first, then put it into their bag, then some old textiles on top.
  • kev
    good idea nobby, maybe a few dirty nappies and the likes
  • tits
    I use the bags for rubbish.
  • LanceVance
    I like to get the local chavs to throw stones at the vans (instead of at fire crews). They soon piss off after a few half house bricks bounce off the side of the van.
  • Andrew R.
    I too use these for car rubbish! I find 3 or 4 of them inside of each other make great rubble bags too.
  • The B.
    Wow, how long has this been going on for? 5+ years, the OFT have done sod all, so have the police, one thing that you failed to note is that these collection companies will also collect the bags left out for legit charities and claim them as their own. The moral of the story is that if you want to give to a charity drop your items INTO the shop, not outside, we've all seen the pikey scum ransacking the bags on the pavement, drop them IN the shop. Sorry, the missus works for a charity and it gets my goat.
  • LanceVance
    I got one that said the clothes are sold cheaply in shops in 3rd world countries!!! Thats really helping!!
  • John V.
    Even if you put stuff in a sack for a proper charity and leave it out, someone might just nick it anyway. Just get off your arse and take it down the charity shop properly! :)
  • Dan L.
    Thats fine -I feel less guilty about giving them worn out (clean!) pants I should have thrown out...
  • maxtweenie
    I save all the bags up until I have enough to put inside one of them, and then leave them all out for one 'lucky' charity to collect.
  • fuzzchopz
    We get at least 3-4 a week. We take our donation to the local shop or the clothes bank at local ASDA Or Tescos.
  • Daniel
    Cheeky bastards....
  • Mr G.
    So... while the government are pushing supermarkets to charge for bags these guys are not only giving them away, they deliver them to your door! They are SAINTS, I say! Anyway, charities are inherently wrong. All they do is suck all their money out of the poor and give most of it to rich gits by the way of expenses for having a purely titular job in said charitable institution. Or am I just a lefty? (Hehe "titular job")
  • Kevin
    Whenever people on my street actually fill these bags up they are rarely ever taken. Even ones from the big official names just get left in the streets, getting wet, covered in snow and no sign of anyone picking them up.
  • Dan
    British Heart Foundation collected a nice load of stuff from us last week. Now I'll keep an eye out for bogus ones tho...
  • Will.
    just recieved a do not delay flyer in , did a check and found an article by Wigan council its worth a look. have just contacted local police to see if they will ckeck out same.
  • Bri
    I am absolutely fed up of getting these plastic donation bags through my letterbox. We are told we should use our own bags at supermarkets to cut down on the use of plastic. I go to the supermarket once a week & would normally get three or four plastic bags there. Compared with that I am getting at least ten a week through my letterbox, on one day alone i received four. Why does the government do nothing to stop this wasteful practice? Do these charities (if that is what they are though I suspect some are not) think we have an endless supply of clothes to give them? Any thing I do want to get rid of goes directly to the local charity shop direct. I know then that it has gone to a genuine charity of my choice.
  • Bri
    I am absolutely fed up of getting these plastic donation bags through my letterbox. We are told we should use our own bags at supermarkets to cut down on the use of plastic. I go to the supermarket once a week & would normally get three or four plastic bags there. Compared with that I am getting at least ten a week through my letterbox, on one day alone I received four. Why does the government do nothing to stop this wasteful practice? Do these charities (if that is what they are though I suspect some are not) think we have an endless supply of clothes to give them? Any thing I do want to get rid of I take directly to the local charity shop. I know then that it has gone to a genuine charity of my choice.
  • cathie t.
    im moving from my house and would like to give unwanted items to chatity but i want them collected from my home. ive already made so many trips to charity shops, and with the stress of moving.i now want some-one to collect it from my house,can you give me a phone number please thanks cathie
  • Keir
    hi there, I work for a charity and we are planning on doing one of these said clothing sack donations, ie posting bags for people to hopefully give some clothing and we pick up. having read this, I guess its probably not the best idea? the thing is, weve allready had an absolutely amazing response with furninture, electrical items, household items and alot of clothing and stuff allready, and that was just posting leaflets through doors.
  • Andy
    I'm writing to every charity that send me a plastic bag , to let them know I'm boycotting them until this ridiculous practise is stopped. I've sent a donation to a local charity who don't send plastic bags, and I'll donate to them regularly until the others stop.
  • Lesley
    I agree, very, very, very annoying. Just so you are aware, Oxfam does NOT do a national door to door collection, nor do they use outside companies to collect. if you recieve an Oxfam bag through your door, it has been put there by a volunteer from a local shop and would be collected by a volunteer.
  • twinks
    i've had ANOTHER one today, already aware of the small print, professing to support tree of hope and emblazoned with the charities logos etc., really from ALRA clothing ltd. reg. no. 7157890?????
  • Bonfunk
    I left a bag out for Kids'n'Cancer a few days ago, only to find today that the bag had gone and a 'Tree of Hope' sack pushed through my door! The charity needs to consider another, more scrupulous collection company as I don't think that they would want to be seen in competition with other charities.
  • Allan
    all these charities, registered or bogus, no matter which one, makes a big profit, exploitating mostly distributors from easterneuropa. You can be self employed businessman, just by these bags from charity company, pay them 70 pounds from each tone you sold for 750 pounds - thats your profit. All these clothes goes to easterneorope countries and will be sold with great profit. This is MAFIA not charity.
  • charity
    Thanks for another informative web site. Where else may just I get that type of info written in such an ideal means? I've a mission that I'm simply now operating on, and I have been on the glance out for such info.
  • Charity R.
    Hello there, just was alert to your weblog through Google, and found that it's really informative. I am gonna be careful for brussels. I'll be grateful should you continue this in future. A lot of other people can be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

What do you think?

Connect with Facebook, Twitter, or just enter your email to sign in and comment.

Your comment