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Collection leaflet from
'The Hand of Help Ltd' (2009)
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:
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 :
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).
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.
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 :
Sticker (our thanks to www.no-junk-mail.co.uk)
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)
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.
This is :
See the Statistics page for the average donation success-rate.
The success-rate for a collection is higher :
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.
'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