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Charity cards

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Snowman (off a charity Christmas card)    Snowman (off a charity Christmas card)

Originally all charity cards were Christmas cards.  Nowadays charities are also selling other types of cards - for birthdays and other special occasions.  Charity cards raise substantial funds for good causes and give good publicity to the causes.

Basically there are three types of cards on sale in the UK :

  1. xStatistics:Charity cards proper - Produced by charities and sold in charity shops.
    The proportion of the purchase price which goes to help good causes can be as high as 75% - this is much greater than with the royalty cards below.
    There is no commercial retailer involved, and most of the staff in charity shops are volunteers.
    If you want to do your best to help charities - buy this type of card.
  2. %"Royalty" cards - Sold by commercial retailers, but sold "in aid of" a specified charity, with whom the publisher (or retailer) has a written agreement (contract).
    xStatistics:With royalty cards, usually the publisher and retailer also make a profit on the sales.
    A small fixed proportion of the purchase price goes to the charity/ies specified (typically only 2 to 15%). 
    Because of abuses, the law was changed in the mid-1990s, so the cards now have to say which charity/ies benefit and what percentage goes to the charity/ies.
  3. Commercial cards - Sold by commercial retailers (newsagents, stationers, card shops, supermarkets etc).  With these cards, no money goes to charity.

Pile of one-pound coins

The cost of producing cards is surprisingly small (the design, card, printing, envelope and packaging).  xStatistics:So there's a large markup for shops - we've heard of commercial cards sold for £1.50 which cost only 15p to produce!  Why not let a charity get the profit, rather than a business?

BBC TV's Watchdog programme did a good feature on "royalty" type charity Christmas cards on 20 December 2001, revealing how small the proportion is that goes to charities in some cases (only 2% in the worst example).

Parallels with house-to-house clothing collections

You may have noticed there's a similarity between :

In both cases you can summarise them as follows :

  1. charity schemes - organised and funded entirely by charities
  2. commercial-charity partnerships - "deals" between a business and a charity
  3. commercial schemes - run entirely for private profit.

In most cases, category 1 above (charity schemes) gives greater benefit to the charity/good cause than category 2 (partnerships).

Charity cards :
Related pages and Useful links