Published on 1st March 2019
Recently members of an organisation have been collecting money in Cheltenham for a cause claiming to help ex-service personal that have become homeless.
With collection buckets, branded clothing and identification badges, these people appear to be collecting money for charity, however, they are representatives of a business working on behalf of a Community Interest Company based in Bristol.
Rather than obtaining consent from the council to collect in the town for the benefit of charitable purposes, this organisation claims to be utilising a street trading exemption for the sale of periodicals which requires no consent from the council and no financial return to be submitted by them.
Whilst representatives of this company do hold copies of a periodical brandishing their name, they generally do not actively offer it for sale and freely accept cash donations into their collection buckets. The council are therefore concerned that visitors to the town will see the collection buckets, synonymous with charity collectors, and believe that they are donating money directly to a registered charity.
A spokesperson for Cheltenham Borough Council, says: “We are currently investigating the practices of this company and we cannot be certain of where the money given to them will be spent. We would advise that if people have any doubt about whether a charity is legal, that they just walk away.”
If somebody is collecting for a charity, it's reasonable that they would have detailed knowledge of that charity. Ask them about who they are collecting for; where money raised goes to, how much is taken from donations for administration purposes, and how much goes directly to help beneficiaries.
If a collector's knowledge on where the money goes seems vague, if they are too pushy, if documents look unprofessional and contain spelling or grammar errors, just walk away.
You may also make contact with the council to check if the collectors are working for a charity and hold the correct consents to be there; please email [email protected] or call 01242 262626.