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Charity wristbands alert 'unfair'

Charity wristbands alert 'unfair'

A provider of charity silicon wristbands argues that the Charity Commission’s advice in its recent alert about counterfeit charity
wristbands is unfair. Adrian Baugh, Managing Director at IF Solutions Ltd, explains.

Last week the Charity Commission put out an alert that conmen were selling fake charity silicon wristbands that were lining their own pocket and not raising funds for charities. The Commission therefore advised that “anyone
wanting to buy a wristband [should] avoid paying for the bands via auction sites and other non-charitable web pages.”

IF Solutions is one of the UK’s leading providers of charity silicon wristbands. Its Managing Director Adrian Baugh takes issue with this advice. “IF Solutions do not, of course, condone the blatant sale of
counterfeit merchandise”, he said. “However, we do feel that it is unfair to assume that just because a wristband appears on an online auction site that it is a counterfeit and therefore is diverting funds away from the
coffers of bone fide charities.”

Mr Baugh questions why charity wristbands are selling for so much more on some sites than the charities charge for the legimate item on their own website. “Would you pay more”, he asks, “for a bootleg cd or DVD at a car boot sale than you would for the genuine article from a high street retailer?”

The answer to this paradox is, in his view, quite simple: it is “a lack of supply on the part of the charities themselves.” He argues that “if these organisations were to make the bands readily available to the public at a reasonable price of perhaps £1.00 to £2.00 each there would not be a need
to pay ridiculous amounts on auction websites.”

Indeed, as he points out, some charities are using the Internet effectively in selling their wristbands. As a result, they are “gaining far more revenue per sale than they would through selling them solely in their own charity shops.”

So, Mr Baugh, argues that “the charities and their fundraising managers have it within their power to stifle the counterfeit market that exists… by simply making their own bands more accessible to the general public.” He adds: “if fundraisers thought for a moment about the nation’s insatiable desire for these silicon bands and applied a little of the enterprise and investment shown by the counterfeiters to their own marketing and
distribution strategies the coffers would swell considerably!”

He does acknowledge that manufacturers such as IF Solutions have a role to play, in particular by policing orders that they accept. His company receives almost daily orders for ‘plainly counterfeit designs’, with the pioneering ‘LIVESTRONG’ design being the most regularly requested. “We would never entertain such enquiries let alone manufacture them” he adds, “although obviously the same cannot be said for all manufacturers and distributors otherwise this problem would not exist in the first place.”

Mr Baugh points out that not all wristbands have been distributed to raise
funds. The popular blue ‘Beat Bullying’ wristbands for example were made to raise awareness, not funds, and “no charge was made for the supply of them, not even for postage.” It might be galling to see these bands change hands for £10 or more online, but in terms of their objective of awareness
raising, “one could argue mission very much accomplished!”

Mr Baugh concludes that counterfeiting should be addressed, but suggests that “the ultimate solution lies not entirely with a call to trading standards or the police but a wake up call to those responsible in fundraising to make hay while the silicon sun shines.”

Howard Lake is a digital fundraising entrepreneur. Publisher of UK Fundraising, the world's first web resource for professional fundraisers, since 1994. Trainer and consultant in digital fundraising. Founder of Fundraising Camp.

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