JUST €1 out of every €10 spent on some of the country's most popular charity Christmas cards goes towards the work carried out by the charity.
Purchasers of charity cards, often more costly than regular Christmas cards, don't know how much of their cash goes directly to the worthy causes because most festive cards on sale in shops fail to state the proportion given to the charity.
In some cases cards produced by third parties for well-known charities result in as little as 10pc, or less than €1 of the the price of the packs, going to the charity whose name is displayed on the package.
The festive sales result in a five-figure boon for charities, and many say they are "delighted" with the vital income from little expenditure at a tough time of year.
Charities say the best way of buying the cards is to purchase them directly from them, and most of the sale price will go to the charity. They also point to the fact that they reach a wider market through the high street stores, and incur no costs when they sell through a third party.
The National Consumer Agency states there is "no consumer law" that requires the trader to include the percentage going to charity on the packaging.
"Consumers have the right to clear and accurate pricing," a spokeswoman told the Sunday Independent, adding that the agency would be in favour of "greater price transparency" to allow consumers to make more informed choices.
Dunnes Stores' €2.50 packs of cards state 10 per cent, or 25c, goes to St Vincent de Paul, while Marks and Spencers' packs also inform customers that 20 per cent of its €7 packs is split between Focus Ireland and the Marie Keating Foundation.
Clothes chain Next's packs state that 15 per cent goes towards Make A Wish and beagle christmas cards.
Other major retailers such as Arnotts, Clerys and Easons sell Christmas cards for charities including the Irish Heart Foundation, Irish Cancer Society and Barnardos but don't indicate on the box the amount going to the charity.
Card manufacturer Lantz Stationery has stated that it has donated more than €450,000 to Irish charities since 2004. But the percentage gifted is not on the box of the cards it manufactures.
In Easons and other stores, the Special Editions Cards clearly state they deliver 63c per pack of €6.50 to Temple Street Children's Hospital, with the same packs also selling for Focus Ireland.
Aid charity Oxfam Ireland took in €100,000 from its cards last Christmas -- which only retail in their 51 shops -- with 70 per cent of the price going towards "life-saving work". Concern pointed out that its online card and catalogue sales raised €9,472 with 73 per cent going to its work.
Both Temple Street Hospital and Trocaire, which took in €4,000 last year, are trialling the sale of there Christmas cards through independent retailers for the first time, where they will receive 10 per cent of the cost.
Focus Ireland, which gathered €30,000 last year, pointed out that the amount it received was clearly stated on the Special Editions Cards, and there were no production costs. The Marie Keating Foundation was "delighted" with the €16,000 it raised last year, and said it felt it reached more people through the high street stores and had to do "little or no work for it".
The Irish Heart Foundation and Irish Hospice Foundation incurs no cost and hopes to raise €20,000 from the sale of charity Christmas cards through a third party, while children's charity Barnardos sells direct but also feels it reaches more people by selling through a third party in shops.