Half a million households in England and Wales will be receiving leaflets warning on how to avoid bogus bag collections in a campaign launched today by the Fundraising Standards Board.
The ‘Bogus Bags’ campaign will kick off in the Kentish constituency of MP Tracey Crouch, one of the most vocal politicians on the issue of the charity bag crime which is estimated to cost charities up to £50m in lost revenue.
Between now and February 2012, the Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB) hopes to distribute 500,000 leaflets in ‘crime hotspots’ England and Wales helping consumers distinguish between legitimate and bogus charity bag collections. The campaign follows a similar one which launched in Scotland in September, which many charities south of the border had been keen to replicate. The previous Labour government had launched a 'Give with Care' public awareness campaign last year, which also included leafleting, but the problem has only grown in profile and scale, with the FRSB revealing earlier this year that the number of complaints about clothing collections had risen two-fold.
The Institute of Fundraising, Charity Retail Association and Textile Recycling Association are supporting the campaign. Concurrent to this, the FRSB is planning for a public relations campaign, using MPs and local authorities to draw attention to the issue within their local media. The Scottish campaign had attracted the support of one in five MSPs and the FRSB has already written to all MPs in England and Wales informing them of the campaign. FRSB chief executive Alistair McLean said that the level of MP support will be one of the measures of success of the campaign.
“It would be great if we could achieve a similar level of support from parliament as we did in Scotland,” he said.
The announcement of this campaign comes just three months after a symposium on the subject in the summer, at which Crouch and others expressed the need for the issue to be made clearer to the public. The costs of the campaign are being shared by the FRSB and the three other sector bodies, and the leaflets will be distributed by commercial bag delivery vans.
At the launch of the campaign, Crouch reiterated her interest and commitment to tackling charity bag crime. “Having been on the receiving end of a bogus bag myself, I am all too aware of the scale of this problem,” Crouch said. “I am calling on residents to make a few simple checks so that you can give with confidence to the charities that so desperately need your support.”
McLean said: “It’s a delicate message to get right. The last thing we want to do is put people off giving, but if we don’t act soon to inform donors what to look for and make life harder for bogus collectors, public mistrust will spread and may impact other forms of giving.”