Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the Advertising Standards Authority.
Often charities have commercial agreements with private companies, which distribute collection bags and collect donations on the charities behalf. This means that donations given by consumers may not go directly to the charity in full and some may be kept by the private company. Ads must not mislead consumers about where their donations are going, and private companies and individuals behind house-to-house charitable collection bags need to ensure they are upfront and clear with consumers about the nature of the service they provide. In order to make sure the ad does not mislead, advertisers must prominently state company name and make the commercial nature of the relationship clear.
Charity collection bags distributed by a private organization or individual must state the name of the company or individual clearly on both sides of the bag. An ad for a company collecting on behalf of Cancer Research & Genetics UK was upheld because there was no mention of the advertiser’s name or company status on the front of the bag. The ASA concluded that due to this consumers were likely to be given the misleading impression that they were donating directly to charity (Recycle Proline Ltd, 30 March 2016).
Marketers must make their company name at least as prominent as the charity who benefit from the collection on both sides of the bag. The font, colour, size and position of the text may all affect its prominence. An example may be stating “Company X Ltd’ collecting in association with “Charity Y” or similar on both sides, in the same size and font and in equally prominent positions on the ad. In the ruling above, the ad did include the company name on the back of the bag, however the charity name and number were given more prominence than the company name, which contributed to the impression that all donations went directly to the charity (Recycle Proline Ltd, 30 March 2016).
The intention of including the company name in at least equal prominence to the charity name is to ensure that the ad makes it clear that the bags are collected by a commercial enterprise. There should be nothing in the ad which gives the impression that the donations will go in full or directly to charities.
CAP has also published Advertising Guidance on how to make sure consumers understand where their donations are going and what charities will receive: Guidance on door-to-door charity collection bags.