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Who gets your donations?

When it comes to supporting charities and giving back, Australians are quite an altruistic bunch, writes Emma Brancatisano at the Huffington Post.

And with more than ten thousand charity collection bins dotted around our streets and suburbs, donations couldn’t be easier or more accessible.

Australians are very generous when it comes to appreciating and understanding the benevolent function of charities.

But they can also be misleading – and our pre-loved goods do not always end up in the hands of those for whom they were intended.

From the Salvos to the Smith Family, Australia has a well-established network of registered charities with recycling operations in place to collect, sort, sell, and recycle donated items.

Charity bin“Legitimate charitable recyclers are those not-for-profit organisations that can accept donations from the public, mainly under benevolent purposes,” CEO of the National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations (NACRO) Kerryn Caulfield told The Huffington Post Australia.

NACRO is the peak body which represents a majority of these charitable recyclers across the country. What binds them? All funds raised go towards supporting each charity’s community support program.

“We also work with government authorities to ensure that charitable recycling remains what it purports to be — and that organisations that are not in fact benevolent are engaging in deceptive or misleading conduct,” Caulfield said.

In 2015-16, 170,000 tonnes of items were donated via charity-operated donation bins.

The sticking point, however, is that not all donation bins that we see on the street are owned by charities.

“Some non-charitable, commercial entities operate a recycling function and it is likely that the goods are either attempted to be sold to charities (through op shops) or that they will be sold into the export market,” Caulfield explained.

This can certainly mislead the public. In recent years, commercial companies have come under fire for posing as not-for-profit organisations and selling goods collected from donation bins to second-hand merchants overseas.

So, how can we avoid this and ensure our donations count?

Step one: Check the labelling


The ins and outs of charity collection bins (Huffington Post)

Large image: Recycling bins close to a misty Ballywalter harbour. The purple one (left) is a charity bin for clothing and textiles./Albert Bridge /

Small image: Huffington Post /Sister Sarah