Charities lose share of card sales to retailers

DAN WILLIAMSON

Charities are receiving as little as 2 per cent of the total cost of a pack of Christmas cards from certain retailers this year, according to a survey by the Charities Advisory Trust.

The survey, which is conducted by the trust each year, reveals that retailers, such as luxury brand Harrods, are selling Christmas cards that donate as little as 1.9 per cent of the total pack price to the stated charity.

Hilary Blume, director at the Charities Advisory Trust, said the average amount given to charities had fallen to as low as 6 per cent, compared with the 10 per cent of total pack price given to charities in 1999.

"Retailers are the main culprits in the charity licensing business as they take around a 60 per cent profit margin," said Blume.

"Charities receive so little because they agree to rotten deals. They don't realise the card manufacturers need them rather than the other way around."

In contrast, the survey found that some Clintons card stores sell a range of cards which donate more than 25 per cent of the total pack price to charities such as Barnardo's, the Helen Rollason Cancer Care Centre Appeal and Marie Curie Cancer Care.

"It is the card publishers which give the money to charity," said Blume.

"Those who produce and sell the cards themselves, like Clintons and Paperchase, can be more generous as the profit margins are bigger."

In light of the survey, the Charities Advisory Trust has launched its own range of high-yield cards for the upcoming festive period via its Card Aid initiative.

The cards, which are sold at venues such as St Martin's in the Field church in London, guarantee to pass on between 35 and 60 per cent of the pack price to charities.

A spokeswoman for Save the Children, which normally receives a minimum of around 10p in the pound on the Christmas cards it sells via retailers, said that although third-party card makers might decide the percentage share on cards, the actual risks open to the charity are low.

"The percentage we get hasn't gone down in our experience," said the spokeswoman.

"It's normally the publishing companies which tend to come to us and tell us what they'd like to donate. There's no risk for us at the end of the day, as we don't end up with lots of unsold cards at the end of Christmas."

A Harrods spokeswoman reacting to the findings of the survey said: "We sell a whole range of Christmas cards with a range of different percentages."

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