Irish shoppers have really embraced the Charity Shop - more and more people are shopping in charity shops and their popularity is at an all time high. The economic downturn has meant that charity shops are seen as a great place to find low cost, high quality items that represent great value for money.

But who benefits from the money raised?

Paul Hughes, Chairman of the Irish Charity Shops Association (ICSA), speaking at an event to launch an online reporting tool for 'Bogus Charity Shops and Bogus Collectors', said that "a combination of the difficulties posed by the current economic climate and a lack of legislation has resulted in unregistered charity shops opening all over the country. Some of these shops may be supporting worthwhile causes, but they are not regulated and it is not clear who benefits from the income that is generated".

The reporting tool, available here will allow the ICSA to collect information about unscrupulous operators who are duping the public and diverting funds from legitimate charities. The details gathered will be passed to the Gardaí and other relevant authorities with the permission of the sender. A similar on line reporting tool has proved successful in helping to combat bogus charity shop activity in the U.K.

Linda Ward, Secretary of the ICSA, said "most people realise that the unwanted clothes in their wardrobe could help Irish charities to provide services and support for those most in need -- and donating to a charity shop is a great way to support a charity when they can't afford to give a cash donation. However, the public want to know who the money is supporting and to be sure that monies raised go to legitimate charities".

The ICSA, which represents legitimate charity shops operated by registered charities, has also launched the Code of Charity Retailing.

The Code aims to promote good practice and high standards in Irish charity shops. It also aims to promote awareness of legitimate charity shops and to help stamp out dishonest and bogus activities. All ICSA members have signed up to and must abide by the Code of Charity Retailing. More information about the Code, including the full text, can be found on the About Us page of our website www.icsa.ie

Whether you are donating to, or shopping in, an ICSA member shop, you can be sure that you are supporting a legitimate Irish Charity.

The ICSA has 21 member charities that between them operate almost 300 charity shops, each of which displays the ICSA logo, a green hanger with ICSA inside it.

Look out for the logo. Download the press release here

Contact: Paul Hughes Chairman Irish Charity Shops Association 085 8556819info@icsa.ie