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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: On behalf of a successful academy i...

Investigo: Finance Business Partner

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Investigo: My client, a global leader in providing ...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - West London

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: WEST LONDON - An excellent new opportunity wit...

Recruitment Genius: Florist Shop Manager

£8 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A Florist Shop Manager is required to m...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project