The Charities Regulator has once again urged the public to take steps to ensure that unwanted clothing and other items they intend to donate to charity through house-to-house collections, actually go to registered charities.
“Our compliance team have received an increasing flow of concerns from the public about individuals and organisations who are carrying out house-to-house collections, but are not registered charities,” Charities Regulator Chief Executive Helen Martin said.
From January 2019 to the end of October 2019, the Charities Regulator 133 reports from the public, expressing concern about people and/or organisations operating house-to-house collections for unwanted clothing and other goods, and querying whether or not they were registered charities.
“We are concerned in the increasing number of reports we are receiving and also the increasing trend in this regard,” Ms Martin said. The Charities Regulator today published a public update on the issue.
“We believe that organisations engaged in unlawful clothing collections will continue to operate in this manner only for as long as people continue to make donations to them. One way we are hoping to address the issue is by increasing public awareness around the issue and encouraging members of the public who wish to donate unwanted items to charity, to check the public Register of Charities.
Leaflets and bags received for clothing collections from registered charities should clearly display the following information:
- The charity’s name;
- The charity’s logo;
- The charity’s Registered Charity Number;
- Contact details for the charity.
One of the functions of the Charities Regulator is to maintain a register of charitable organisations. All charitable organisations that intend to operate or carry on activities in the State are required to apply to the Charities Regulator for inclusion in the register. Potential donors can assure themselves that any organisation seeking a donation is a registered charity by checking the publicly available Register of Charities at the following link:
To ensure that a collection is on behalf of the organisation that it purports to be for, members of the public should check with the charity directly to confirm the collection is genuine.
When charities are engaged in fundraising by way of clothing collections from the public, including collections by third parties on the charity’s behalf, charities should ensure that they have information readily available to the public about where they are carrying out collections.
Under Section 41 of the Charities Act 2009 (the 2009 Act) it is an offence for any person to advertise on behalf of, to invite members of the public to give money or property to, or to accept such money or property on behalf of a charitable organisation that is not registered, or for an unregistered charitable organisation to carry on such activities.
It is also an offence under Section 46 of the 2009 Act for a body (other than a registered charitable organisation), to describe itself or its activities in a manner that would cause a member of the public to reasonably believe that the body is a charitable organisation.
The Charities Regulator liaises with An Garda Síochána in respect of these matters on an ongoing basis.
If a member of the public suspects that an organisation is not in compliance with charity law they should contact the Charities Regulator via the concerns phone line on 01 633 1550 or by completing the online form.
Alternatively, if a member of the public has an immediate concern that a clothing collection may not be genuine, we would urge them to make contact with An Garda Síochána.
The Charities Regulator’s public update document contains examples of labels in respect of clothing collections by organisations that are NOT registered charitable organisations, which were brought to our attention by members of the public.