Charities getting small share of Christmas card profits

CHRISTMAS and charity are supposed to be synonymous, but it is sometimes difficult to relate the two when calculating the benefits to needy groups from the sale of between pounds 30m and pounds 35m charity cards each year.

At John Lewis, for example, a spokesman said his store did not provide information on its packs about the amount of money that would be going to charity, but: 'We provide the information to our stationery department who can pass it on to customers who want to know.'

It turns out that for an eight- card pack costing pounds 1.15, each card raises 1.4p for charities such as Oxfam or Barnardo's. From next spring, however, customers will know without having to ask. Along with all other stores, John Lewis will be obliged under the Charities Act 1992 to state on the pack the proportion of the retail price that will reach the charity.

Although many stores already do so - Sainsbury's, for example, tells its customers that 30p per pack of 10 cards costing pounds 2.99 will go to the charity - the legislation is expected to focus stores' attention on whether they are donating as much as the public expects.

Hilary Blume, director of the Charities Advisory Trust, said: 'The charities should not let their names go too cheaply. They should realise that it's their name that is helping to sell the cards, and they should ask for more. I would like to see the setting up of a charity standard which would stipulate an absolute minimum of 10 per cent, but aiming at between 15 and 20 per cent.'

The role played by large retail stores does have its benefits. Neville Bass, director of the Charity Christmas Card Council, said he would like everyone to buy direct from charities but agreed there would always be a 'convenience factor' for customers buying from commercial stationers. Some charities would also be at a loss without the stores. Age Concern, for example, does not print its own cards and relies on stores like Marks & Spencer printing and selling cards on its behalf. By doing so, it avoids the printing and production costs, along with the liability of unsold stock. The 10 per cent cut gave Age Concern a profit of pounds 40,000 last year.

Charities which rely on their own merchandising are playing for bigger profits, but at greater risk. Oxfam says 62 per cent of the cost price in its own shops goes to development and relief work, while other retailers give 47 per cent. 'Because we are large and sell so many cards we can strike a better bargain,' a spokeswoman said.

The risk comes in the production costs. Keith Manley, former finance director of Barnardo's, said a typical cost breakdown of producing pounds 1 worth of cards would be: design and printing, 20p; warehousing, marketing and distribution, 22p; administration and finance, 5p - leaving a net profit to charity of 53p.

However, only a few charities meet this target. Peter Pascoe, head of sales at Mencap, said his charity received just over 25 per cent from its cards. 'One charity said it made 85p in the pound. That's nonsense. It suggests it costs nothing to distribute the cards. Although we have a lot of voluntary labour, our other costs are the same as any commercial company. Making a comparison is meaningless unless everyone is playing by the same rules. Each charity will calculate their profits from cards in different ways.'

The benefits of charity cards are not just financial, however. Simon Lloyd, appeal director for the Cancer Relief Macmillan Fund, said: 'Last year we sold 1.5 million cards which means that there are 1.5 million households with a greater awareness of CRMF.'

Percentages that the main players take

Oxfam: 62 per cent if bought from Oxfam shops, 47 per cent if from retail shops.

Save the Children Fund: 60-65 per cent.

Cancer Relief Macmillan Fund: 60 per cent if bought direct; 47 per cent if from charity shops.

National Children's Home: 30 per cent.

Card Aid: 25 per cent.

Mencap: 25.5 per cent.

Cancer Research Campaign: 18.75 per cent.

Age Concern: 10 per cent.

Sainsbury: 10 per cent.

John Lewis: 10 per cent.

Boots: 8 per cent.

News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine