13 June 2018
Following an Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) decision in 2016 that a charitable collection bag used by a commercial participator was in violation of the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) code rules, CAP has issued new guidance relating to charitable collection bags being used by door-to-door charitable collection bag companies. The aim is to ensure that the commercial nature of their business is sufficiently evident on the face of the bags. Concerns had arisen that consumers were being presented with misleading information that they were donating directly to charities when, in fact, only a proportion of their money donated would be passed on to the charity.
The ASA ruling applies to private companies or individuals who act as commercial participators in the door-to-door collection of goods, with a percentage of the funds given to charity. The ruling does not apply to charity shops or their agents collecting goods on behalf of the charity to be sold in charity shops (as, in this case, the charity would hold the collection licence and could therefore have only its name on the bag). Additionally, the new guidance applies to legitimate collection businesses. CAP explained that operators who 'masquerade as charities but who are, in fact, engaged in criminal activity' are best dealt with by law enforcement.
CAP advises that the ruling indicates that advertisers should communicate their name and company status on both sides of the collection bag and that, if the bag features a charity's name, the company name must have greater or equal prominence with the name of the charity. The new guidance provides examples of the type of wording and layout on collection bags which comply with the new guidance so that companies can communicate fairly with consumers. Organisations were given until 2 June 2017 to bring their collection bags in line with the guidance.