Clamping Down On Bogus Charity Collections

Irish charities that depend on income earned though the sale of donated clothes in their charity shops will doubtless have welcomed the recent enactment of the Charity Act, which should go some way to stamping out the bogus clothing collectors. This positive step also follows on from the arrest in early February of two people who were making unauthorized collections posing as representatives of the Polio Fellowship of Ireland charity.

The issue of bogus charities clothing collectors (which often pass themselves off as charities in their promotional literature) has been an ever present problem for bona fide Irish charities over the past few years. For example, there has been a spate of bogus collections in the Galway area in recent weeks. The Galway City Tribune has reported that in a one-week period alone, no less than a dozen different commercial companies delivered their leaflets around the city, claiming to be collecting for the poor overseas. It has been widely been reported how these clothes are often sold off in poorer countries in Eastern Europe or Africa.

The scenario is the same across the country, with estimates of over 20 bogus clothing collectors being operational in Dublin alone. And it is bona fide charities that are inevitably paying the price. To take just one example, Enable Ireland reported in November 2008 that as much as 20% - 40% of the items collected through textile banks and house collections for the charity are stolen. It has been estimated that persistent theft and vandalism cost the charity in excess of €50,000 in 2008.

Now, with the passing of the Charity Act into law, it should help to tackle this pressing issue. The Charities Act makes it an offence for an organization that is not a registered charity to present itself in such a way that it could cause members of the public to reasonably believe that it is a charitable organization. When the Act is fully commenced members of the public will be able to make a complaint to the Regulator and/or the Gardai about organizations it suspects are not charities that are collecting for allegedly charitable purposes.