Certain shops and supermarkets are only donating 10% from the sale of charity Christmas cards to the charities they are supposed to be supporting.

Charities are able to raise £50 million through the sale of special charity Christmas cards each year, but this could be much more if shops and supermarkets coughed up a bigger share.

An investigation by financial website loveMONEY.com into 14 major retailers found that only Debenhams offers a charity Christmas card that donates 100% of sales to its chosen cause.

However, this only applies to a particular pack of eight window scene charity Christmas cards. The other 11 packs in its range donate 20%.

Charity Christmas cards

Lidl, Aldi and John Lewis were the next best in our analysis, donating 25% of sales to their chosen charities on their whole range.

Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Ryman and Asda were found to give just a 10% share from sales.

[Read more: Opinion: why I'm not buying my son anything for Christmas]

The best and worst charity Christmas cards

Here’s a rundown of what the 14 major retailers we looked at will be donating and which charities receive the money from the sale of their charity Christmas cards.

Some offer different cuts depending on the pack you go for. Wherever possible we’ve made this clear, which means some names feature twice in the table.

Retailer

Percentage of sale price donated

Charity

Debenhams

100%*

BBC Children in Need (or Make a Wish in Republic of Ireland)

John Lewis

25%

Barnardo's, Hospice UK, Alzheimer's Society, WWF

Lidl

25%

CLIC Sargent

Aldi

25%

Barnardo’s

Marks & Spencer

20%

Macmillan Cancer Support, Breast Cancer Now, UNICEF and Marie Keating Foundation

Debenhams

20%

BBC Children in Need (or Make a Wish in Republic of Ireland)

Waterstones

20%

BookTrust and Neuroblastoma UK

WHSmith

20%

Help the Heroes

Paperchase

17%

Wide range depending on pack purchased includes Children with Cancer UK, Terrence Higgins Trust, Alzheimer's Society and Multiple Sclerosis Trust

Clintons

15%

Rays of Sunshine Children's Charity, British Heart Foundation and Marie Curie Cancer Care

Next

15%

Macmillan Cancer Support, Barnardo’s and the British Heart Foundation

Asda

10%

Children in Need

Ryman

10%

Paid by The Great British Card Company in support of the Multiple Sclerosis Trust or The National Autistic Society

Sainsbury’s

10%

Royal British Legion (Poppy Scotland in Scotland) and Comic Relief

Waitrose

10%

Mind, Just Enough, RNIB, Marine Conservation Society

WHSmith

10%

RSPCA, Marie Curie and Save the Children

*Only one pack from the range donates 100%. Other packs donate 20% to the charities.

Some of the lowest donations uncovered through our investigation were supermarkets, where many shoppers find it convenient to pick up their Christmas cards.

At Sainsbury’s, a pack of charity Christmas cards cost around £2.50, which means just 25p goes to the Royal British Legion and Comic Relief.

However, Sainsbury’s says it donates a lot more on the whole through various other fundraising activities.

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson told loveMONEY: “This year alone we have raised over £2.6 million for the Royal British Legion and over £7 million for Comic Relief through different fundraising activities.”

Supermarkets dodging the controversy?

You may have noticed a few of the big supermarkets are missing from our comparison.

That’s because many have opted to pay a lump sum – regardless of how many packs they sell – to their chosen charities rather than a percentage of each sale.

The Co-op told loveMONEY it will give £30,000 from the sales of its charity Christmas cards to the British Red Cross. Last year the supermarket came under fire for donating just 7% from sales of their charity Christmas cards.

Morrisons says it will donate £50,000 to Sue Ryder from the sale of its range of charity Christmas cards.

Tesco will donate the most at £300,000 in connection with the sales of selected Christmas card packs. This will be divided equally between its two national charity partners, Diabetes UK and the British Heart Foundation.

So with these retailers already pledging to put some money towards charity it’s probably worth you going elsewhere to pick up your charity Christmas cards this year.

Best way to give to charity

If you’re planning on picking up some charity Christmas cards, you should double check the back of the pack to understand how much will actually go towards the cause.

If you want to make sure all profits from the sale of what you pay for a pack of Christmas cards goes to a good cause, it’s best to shop direct. Oxfam, Macmillan and Barnado’s, for example, all have a range of Christmas cards available.

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