Sunday, 6 February 2011

Charity Collection Bags

A bogus charity leaflet, used in the Midlands

We live in an area which is inundated with these collection bags, some genuine charities, others acting illegally and others who fit just inside the law but a teeny tiny percentage of the rag value on each bag goes on to the charity advertised.

They drive me crazy, arriving through the post, making us believe we are popular enough to be receiving post, littering my doorway with their multi coloured proclamations promising an end to agoraphobia in gerbils, or a cure for world nits.

When they do arrive from well known and well thought of national charities, some of which have funded excellent research into the causes of cancer, or heart disease, or are regulars in supporting countries in need of aid around the world, then my attitude is different. Instead I think of the people for whom they are raising the money, and the lives it will touch. I also think of the staff working in our local charity shops and have a little reminisce.

I used to manage one of these small local branches of a large national chain of shops for a well respected charity. As much as I was absolutely overcome with people's generosity when the van driver arrived at the shops with one of his twice weekly collections, it was also overwhelming in a physical sense sometimes.

This particular charity used to have a policy which meant that only the management could sort through the stuff donated. In practice this meant that we went through around 250-300 bags a week from the van and another 100 bags donated through the door. Then our tireless army of volunteers tagged, and pressed it before it was put out into the shop. 

As well as being a pretty physical job a person needed a good sense of humour. In my 5 years we had across our area of shops, some very bizarre donations in these bags, the following still gives me nightmares:
  • A kind gentleman donated a bag full of 'interesting' underwear and even more 'interesting' accessories by accident. He then rang to get them back at which point we had to explain that they really weren't our usual kind of stock and had been disposed of...he was NOT a happy man!
So when you receive a bag through the door please check out the charity's credentials online. If you are in when they are in the area you could even ask for ID (a reputable charity would supply their drivers with this), if you are still not sure take it into your local shop.

Oh and spare a thought for the 'sorters'. Is it really going to be saleable? No? Freecycle or chuck it out. Sadly some things are beyond repair.

1 comment:

  1. Heartfelt commiserations. This too is an area where they appear to breed charity collection bags. My own response if I have clothes etc. to dispose of is to first check the registered charity number which must be printed on the bag if it is legit. If so, I then leave it out on the appointed day and if it is not collected - at least half the time - I then take the goods to town with me and give them to one of the numerous charity shops (at least a dozen) in town.
    If there is no charity number I use the bag to recycle my shredded paper for waste collection.
    Leaving the unused bag out merely results in bags circulating the area on the prevailing winds for weeks. Deep Joy!