Macmillan Cancer Support has launched a national clothes collection scheme it hopes will raise £100,000 in six months.
The charity, which does not operate any charity shops but receives funds from a few stores run by local groups, began sending out its official Bags of Support on Monday to an estimated eight million UK households.
Clothing donated will be sold by Macmillan’s private sector partner Clothes Aid, which specialises in clothing collections on behalf of charities. The company will give 95 per cent of profits on the clothes sold to the charity.
After a six-month trial period, the scheme is expected to be continued and the charity estimates it will make around £1m over the next three years.
Lynda Thomas, Macmillan’s director of fundraising, said: "Our supporters often ask if they can donate clothes to us as we don’t have a national chain of charity shops.
"So we’re really pleased to launch Macmillan’s clothes collections scheme Bags of Support, which gives people an easy, cost-free way to donate to Macmillan."
Macmillan’s statement said the clothes collection market offered a cost-effective way for people to support it, in a non-financial way. It cited research by the waste reduction campaign Wrap, showing that, on average, 30 per cent of the clothing in people’s wardrobe has been unused for at least a year, as one of the reasons behind its donations drive.
David Cryer, chair of the Charity Retail Association, said: "We believe that charity shops are the way people should be donating merchandise to charity. That is because 100 per cent of the profits from the merchandise goes to the charity.
"However well-intentioned they are, there is always a compromise with doorstep collections with commercial collectors taking a share of the profits."
Cryer also said that such collections took much-needed stock away from charity shops.
"There is only a fixed amount of stock in the system," he said. "While charity shops are doing well at the moment, people are also more reluctant to give up merchandise due to the economic downturn.
"Our message is give direct to charity shops so that third parties do not take a share of the profits."