SOME door-to-door charity bag collections are “piggybacking on the goodwill of the consumer”, an Oxford charity boss has said.

The head of retail at Helen & Douglas House, David Cryer, who also chairs the Charity Retail Association, the body which represents the interests of charity retailers, urged donors to read the small print on collection bags and think carefully about where they want their goods to go.

Research has revealed only about 30 per cent of items donated via letterbox charity bags actually end up in high street charity shops, with most of it sold abroad for private profit.

Yet 65 per cent of those questioned in a British Heart Foundation survey were not aware that commercial companies exist who donate a flat fee of between £50 and £100 per tonne to a registered charity, pocketing the rest of the profits.

Mr Cryer said: “One issue is bags from bogus, illegal collectors who are out there with a logo that’s a charity name that’s actually a fake. Then, completely separately, there is a legal opportunity for charities who do not have shops to take stock in the same way with a commercial partner.

“The commercial partner does all the work for the charity in taking in all the stock and that is sold legally in Eastern Europe and developing countries.

“ All the charity has to do is lend their logo and then all the commercial company has to do is piggy-back on the goodwill of the consumer.”

The practice is widespread, with charities such as the NSPCC making it clear in the small print on the bags that they receive £80 per tonne of goods collected by commercial company Clothes Aid.

NSPCC director of fundraising Paul Amadi said: “Since launching our partnership with Clothes Aid in July 2009, more than £1.7 m has been raised for the NSPCC “These vital funds, raised by members of the public, are invaluable to the NSPCC’s work of helping to end cruelty to children. All of the costs are absorbed by the collector, meaning that the NSPCC can invest further sums into our work with vulnerable children and young people.”

But Mr Cryer said some charities were not getting a good deal from their partnerships because a tonne of clothes can fetch up to £1,800.

He said: “The worldwide rag price is at a record high but most of the money from a bag of clothes donated is not going to charity.”

Cancer charity Clic Sargent uses bag collections to stock the shelves of its London Road, Headington, store and does not work with a commercial partner.

Staff there said they rely on donations and everything collected in their bags from householders in Oxford ends up on sale.

Jeremy Lune, of Clic Sargent, said: “Clic Sargent delivers collection bags to homes and businesses near our 28 high street charity shops across the UK, to encourage donations in local communities.

“Our collection bags carry the charity’s logo and the charity’s registration number, so you can check if it’s genuine by looking to see if that’s displayed.”

Mr Cryer said Helen & Douglas House relied on items brought to the shops in Oxford. People with large items and furniture to donate can arrange for a charity van to collect their goods.