Scrooge retailers market 'charity' Christmas cards

Dave Kendall/PA


Retailers selling charity Christmas cards are donating as little as 1.1 percent to good causes, with internet shops the worst offenders, according to a report by the Charities Advisory Trust.

The trust's 10th annual Scrooge report names and shames companies which are marketing their cards in the name of charity, but actually giving only a tiny percentage to the cause they say they support.
This year the trust looked at online personalised charity Christmas card companies for the first time, and found that more than two-thirds of those surveyed give less than five percent to charity, with more than one-quarter giving less than 2 percent.

In contrast, their survey found that big high-street names had improved, with most now giving at least 10% to charity. Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and Waterstones give 20 percent of the price of their cards, while John Lewis gives 25 percent.

However, it said that with three-for-two offers are becoming the norm for high street retailers, and these reduce the amount given to charity.

It argued that some legislation should be in place to control the amount of money which goes to charity saying that without it, "companies can give as little as 2% to charity and still label the card as a charity card. EU regulations would not allow a meat pie with 2% meat to be labelled as a meat pie", it argued.

The trust gave its first 'Clear as Mud' award to Company Christmas Cards, an online retailer that claimed at the top of its website "2011 charity cards out now!", yet some of the cards listed on the page gave no money to charity.

It reserved praise for Cards Galore, awarding it the 'Reformed Sinner' award. Having won the Scrooge award for the last two years, this year the retailer's cards almost all gave 10 percent to charity.

This year's Scrooge award went to online company CCA Occasions. The trust said: "Despite offering 10p per card donation the cards can cost up to £9.35 each (including additional charges such as artwork, personalised envelopes and foil printing), resulting in a donation to charity of 1.1%."

Mark Seekins, manager director of CCA Occasions, said the Trust's calculations were not accurate: "This is incorrect whatever extra costs are added. The majority of sales are 100 cards at around £2 per card, which compares well versus a single non-personalised card."

At this price, the 10p flat-rate donation would represent five percent of the card's price.
Seekins added: "CCA Occasions has raised over £5m for UK Charities over the past 20 years. We are the market leader in a mature and declining market. We also offer the highest charity royalty programme in the market."
The Charities Advisory Trust sells its own cards under the Card Aid banner. It said it gave between 40 percent and 60 percent of the price to charity after costs.
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