Charity clothing collections

Do you have unwanted clothes to donate to charity?

You might have seen a clothing bag posted through your letterbox. Clothing collections raise money for good causes, with charities getting part of the value of the clothes that are donated.

Clothing collections are usually carried out by commercial organisations. Not all of them are charitable. The ones that are must state on the bag which charity will benefit and how much of the donation they’ll receive.

Sadly there are clever fraudsters who use the name of legitimate charities to steal clothing donations. Every year, thousands of pounds are stolen from charities in this way.

But there are simple steps you can take to tell a genuine charity clothing collection from a potential fraud.

Charity clothing collections: genuine or not?

  • The law states that all clothing bag collections must be licensed. If you’re not sure whether a bag collector has a licence to collect in your area, contact the licensing team at your local authority.
  • If you think a bag might not be genuine, ring the charity directly to see if they’ve authorised collections to take place in your area.
  • Before donating, check the charity’s name and registration number on the register of charities.
  • Charities and charity clothing collection companies can also voluntarily register with the Fundraising Regulator to show they support good fundraising practice. Check the directory to see who has registered. 
  • If in doubt, ask the clothing bag collector for more information. A genuine collector should be happy to answer questions about their work.
  • Be wary of donating if the wording on the bag has poor spelling, punctuation or grammar.
  • Be cautious if the bag collection is for general charitable causes, such as ‘for local sick children’, instead of a named charity.
  • All clothing collectors working for a charity must state on their bag how much the charity will make from the donation. Usually, a donation is made to charity for every tonne of items received. If there is no information on the bag, do not donate.
  • The bag should say when the collection is scheduled to take place (either the day or the date). If you see someone take the bag before this date, let the charity know.
  • Collectors should display their logo on the vehicle that they’re using to pick up donations. Contact the charity if you see anyone collecting bags in an unmarked van.
  • Collectors should be able to show you photo ID with their name and organisation contact details, if you ask them.
  • Clothing bag companies should include their name and registered company number on both sides of the bag. This information should be printed the same size or bigger on the bag as the name of the charity they are collecting for.
  • If you suspect that a collection is not legitimate, contact Action Fraud.

If you don’t want to receive charity collection bags, you can let bag collectors know by displaying a door sticker. Fundraisers are not allowed to deliver bags to a property that displays a sticker or sign including the words ‘no charity bags’, ‘no clothing bags’ or any other message that clearly indicates the householder doesn’t want to donate in this way.

This guidance has been produced with the Local Government Association.