Beware of fake charity collections
By Hans Zomer
Few things annoy me more than fake charity activity – like the many collection bags on your doorstep, pretending to be for the benefit of “Africa”.
It’s not just annoying, it’s illegal – the Charities Act 2009 makes it an offence to pretend to be a charity (or indeed, for a charity to pretend it is an Irish charity, without being registered here).
Besides being annoying and illegal, it is also immoral. If there are groups who are ready to abuse the generosity of people in Ireland by posing as charities collecting clothes, they undermine the work of bona fide non-profits.
There is a simple check you can perform, if you are not sure about a particular charity:
- Is there a postal address on the bag/leaflet?
- Is there a charity number? (a CHY number indicating the organisation is registered with Revenue – check via www.revenue.ie;
if a company number is given, check it on the Companies Registration Office website, www.cro.ie)
- Is there a landline telephone number? (a legitimate charity is highly unlikely to use a mobile telephone number).
Most importantly, you should only donate clothes to organisations that participate in the Irish Charity Shops Association, whose logo (a clotheshanger) should be on the bag.
Our advice is not to trust charities blindly, but to demand information from them about how your donations are being used. Professional and accountable charities will have no problem providing you with that information.
We would also recommend that you ring your local authority and ask if the “charity” is licensed to make door-to-door collections.
And, remember, that the most credible charities are members of the national umbrella organisation for Development NGOs, Dóchas, whose members adhere to strict professional standards of conduct. And whose members actively encourage feedback from you, the people supporting their work.
- Irish Charity Shop Association
- National Consumer Agency
- Making donations to charity go further
- (beta site) of INKEX, a database of Irish charities