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Clothing collections :
1. Delivering leaflets and bags
2. Collecting the bags

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  1. Delivering clothing collection leaflets and bags
    • Leaflets or bags?
    • Delivery rate (per hour, per day)
    • Delivery costs
    • The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) - a loophole
    • Junk mail (including collection leaflets and bags)
  2. Collecting the bags
    • General
    • The donation success-rate (%) - and profits
      • Collectors and partner-charities
      • Licensing of 'charitable' collections

Clothing collection leaflet by 'The Hand of Help Ltd' (Nov 2009) [w360]
Collection leaflet from
'The Hand of Help Ltd' (2009)

Related pages


1. Delivering leaflets and bags

Leaflets or bags?

Leaflets are very light and compact.  So a whole day's supply can be carried easily in a small rucsac.

Bags and bag-kits are bulky and much heavier than leaflets.  So you really need a car or van to be parked nearby - so you can collect new supplies from the vehicle every 2 or 3 hours.

For details of leaflets and bags, see:

Delivery rate

See the Statistics page for estimates of the delivery rate for leaflets or bags (eg the number of homes per hour - and per day).

The delivery rate depends on several factors :

Delivery costs

Money - notes and coins

Wages - Most of the delivery staff are low-paid - typically around the National Minimum Wage (NMW) - see the Statistics page for details.  We guess a lot of them are on piece-work - paid a fixed sum to deliver a certain number of leaflets.

In-house staff or contractors? - Many collectors use their own staff for deliveries.  But some use contractors (=outsourcing).  See the Statistics page for an example (with prices).

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) - a loophole


Because most collection leaflets are delivered by the collectors' own staff, it makes it more-or-less impossible for the ASA to take effective action against misleading leaflets.

This is because the ASA's powers rely on putting pressure on intermediaries (reputable third parties) which carry the advertisements - such as publishers of newspapers or magazines, or broadcasters.  For details, see the page on the Advertising Standards Authority.

Junk mail - and clothing collection leaflets and bags

Clothing collection leaflets and bags are a type of junk mail.

With much junk mail, the deliveries are done by third parties (contractors) - such as Royal Mail postmen, people delivering local newspapers or direct leafleting with several different leaflets at the same time.

However, clothing collectors generally don't use these methods - they deliver their leaflets/bags themselves.

Junk mail (including charity collection leaflets/bags) is unpopular with a lot of people.  For example, see the anonymised emails to CharityBags page.  People get really upset about it.

Some householders put notices on (or next to) their letterbox, saying they don't want junk mail.  We've seen a few which mention clothing collection leaflets and bags.  Some of the notices are home-made; a few are purchased.  For example, www.webstickers.co.uk   sell a "NO CHARITY BAGS" sticker.  It's self-adhesive plastic (vinyl) - picture below :

'No charity bags' sticker (our thanks to www.webstickers.co.uk)

'No junk mail' sticker (our thanks to www.no-junk-mail.co.uk)
Sticker (our thanks to www.no-junk-mail.co.uk)

2. Collecting the bags


1xStatistics:Number of days between delivery and collection

1xStatistics:Day of collection

Time of collection - Normally 8am or 9am to 5pm or 6pm ('rain or shine').
We've seen a few leaflets which say they finish at midday.

Vehicles - Clothes are bulky but light in weight.  So most collectors use a light van - such as a white Ford Transit.  On one occasion we saw a collector using a brown-coloured Volkswagen camper-van (with glass windows all round).

Vehicle livery - Some collectors used liveried vans - in other words the details of the collector and/or charity are displayed on the outside of the vehicle.  A few collectors use easily-removable signs - eg magnetic ones.  A lot of these are fraudulent.  Clothes Aid (a reputable collector) always uses liveried vehicles.

We'd like to see rules introduced which require collectors to use liveried vehicles - this would reduce thefts of bags by people who aren't the official collectors.  It would help the regulators - such as the police.  See the page on thefts of collection bags.

Staff - Most collections use two people - one to drive and one to look out for the bags (and pick them up).  Some teams are husband and wife.

With some collections, one person walks the route and one drives.
With most, they're both in the van - which stops when they see a filled bag.

Collecting unused bags - A few collectors put a note on their bags, inviting you to put out the bag even if it's empty.  The collector picks up the empty bags, for re-use.  However, the labour cost of collecting empty bags usually exceeds the cost of the bags.

Van containing stolen charity bags - seized: Cardiff (courtesy of BBC)
Van containing stolen charity bags
seized: Cardiff (courtesy of BBC)

Content of filled bags - See the Statistics page for estimates of how many items people put in a bag and the total weight per bag.

Speed - About 10 mph is typical, with frequent stops (to pick up each bag).  If they go faster, they're likely to miss a lot of bags - especially the ones which are well back from the pavement (eg on people's doorsteps).

2xStatistics:Delivery speed versus collection speed - We estimate that a van covers more streets per day than the person delivering the leaflets.  We guess :

Travel - Most collectors have only one depot.  Some collectors may travel a hundred miles or more to a collection area.  However, many collection organisers use local sub-contractors to do the collecting.

The donation success-rate (%) - and profits


This is :

See the Statistics page for the average donation success-rate.

The success-rate for a collection is higher :

  1. if it refers to a 'good cause' (genuine or not) - rather than just being commercial
  2. if it refers to a named charity - rather than saying vague things like 'third world clothing collection'
  3. if it refers to a British charity - rather than (say) an East European one
  4. if it's a well-known, trusted charity 'brand' - eg British Heart Foundation or Age UK
  5. if a bag is provided
  6. if there have been no collections in the street recently
  7. if there are no charity shops nearby
  8. if there are lots of families with young children living in the area (as they produce more unwanted clothes than most households)
  9. if there are lots of old people living in the area (as they find it more difficult to take clothes to charity shops - eg no car)
  10. if it's a low-crime area - with less risk of bags being stolen
Collectors and partner-charities

Two one-pound coins

2xStatistics:With item 2 above (a reference on the bag to a named charity) this has a big effect on the number of bags collected.  It can result in 3 or 4 times as many bags per street (and better quality donations).

This is why commercial collectors are so keen to get a charity as a partner.  Then they can put the charity's details on the leaflet or bag.  In return, the collector has to pass on some of his profit to the charity - but he can afford to do this because he's collected more bags.

Most of the costs of a collection are fixed - especially the expenditure on leaflets/bags and the labour costs of delivering them.  So the revenue (and profit) depends on the number of filled bags collected (and the quantity and quality of the donated goods in them).

If a collector gets (say) one bag in a street - it covers his costs.  Any more bags in the same street are then pure profit.


Licensing of 'charitable' collections

'Charitable' collections need a licence from the local council (or a 'National Exemption Order' from the Cabinet Office).  The law on this is contained in the 'House to House Collections Act 1939' (the '1939 Act').  See the page on collection law.