FAQs

ABOUT US

  • History – where did the idea come from?

    Like all the greatest ideas, Toilet Twinning was born in the bathroom.

    It was in fact a concept conceived by our founder charity, Cord – a peace and reconciliation NGO.

    Back in 2008, Cord had an ‘alternative gift’ catalogue and the wife of one of Cord’s managers sponsored a bog in Burundi as a Christmas present to her husband.

    Sian Atterton’s stroke of genius was to tape the picture of a latrine onto the loo seat at home on Christmas morning and to add a sticky note bearing the words: ‘I’ve twinned your loo.’ Her husband, Mark, was inspired.

    After a few months of developing and tweaking the concept, Cord launched Toilet Twinning. The initial target – to twin 500 toilets in Burundi – was reached in just three months. On a roll, Cord realised Toilet Twinning had the potential to go global. In 2010, it joined forces with Tearfund to extend the number of countries where toilets could be twinned. Cord handed over the Toilet Twinning baton to Tearfund in 2015, enabling Cord to focus on its peace-building work. By then, Toilet Twinning had raised more than £2.3 million, and had twinned about 35,000 toilets in more than 40 countries. The story continues…

  • Do you only fund Christian projects?

    No. Toilet Twinning is a fundraising initiative to support Tearfund’s water and sanitation programme in around 25 countries across the world. Tearfund works through local church partners because it is recognised that local churches are well-placed to serve local people, because they usually know who is most in need and they can implement culturally-appropriate, cost-effective, sustainable development programmes. This is recognised by the UK government’s Department For International Development; DFID make significant grants to agencies like Tearfund because of the integrity of their approach, and because of the best practice deployed by Tearfund, which is opposed to proselytism.

    Our partners seek to help people out of compassion and a passion to empower impoverished communities, not out of a sense of preaching and spreading the gospel. They work with the whole community to set up local water and sanitation committees, and the programmes benefit people of all faiths, and none – as they explain the link between sanitation and health, and encourage households to build toilets.

    No part of the £60 donation that people give in order to twin their toilet is used in spreading the Christian gospel. We do not invest in evangelism.

PAYMENT & FINANCIAL

  • How to pay

    You can order online using a credit or debit card, or you can send us your order by post with a cheque. It’s also possible to pay with CAF or stewardship vouchers. There are three ways to make a donation or pay for a toilet twin:

    • Online: The easiest way is here, on the website, where you can pay by card and personalise your certificate.
    • Cheque: If you would like to pay by cheque, please make it payable to Toilet Twinning, and send it with your order form to:
      Toilet Twinning, 1052-1054 Christchurch Road, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH7 6DS

    You can download an order form.

    • BACS Transfer: If you make a bank transfer, please write your name / your school / organisation name in the transfer reference, and email us with your order, and details of when you made the transfer and how much the donation was for so that we can track your order. Contact us for our bank details.

  • Can you give me your bank details / invoice?

    We will happily issue you with an invoice, but can only accept payment through our website, or by phone or post. We would need your organisation name, address and where you want the invoice sent or emailed, and we will send one out to you. Please contact us.

  • How your money helps

    Toilet Twinning funds the work of international relief and development agency Tearfund. Your donation will be used to provide clean water, basic sanitation, and hygiene education. This vital combination works together to prevent the spread of disease. Children are healthier, and able to go to school; parents are well enough to work their land and grow enough food to feed their family. With better health, and more ability to earn a living, men and women discover the potential that lies within them to bring transformation. Family by family, community by community, nation by nation, we are flushing away poverty. By twinning your loo with a latrine for £60 or a toilet block or displacement camp block for £240, your donation will go towards our water and sanitation programmes. When you twin your loo you will receive a framed certificate which you can personalise (this makes an ideal present for someone!). The certificate also features a photo of your twinned toilet and its coordinates so you can find it on Google Maps.

  • How is £60 used?

    The funds raised through Toilet Twinning are used by Tearfund to fund their water, sanitation and hygiene-promotion programmes. We don’t link individual donations from Toilet Twinning to specific villages, as the cost of administering this would reduce how much we are able to spend on actually delivering water & sanitation programmes. With your donation, our programmes ensure that people have access to clean water, learn about the importance of building a latrine and maintaining it, and also learn about hygiene.  Education programmes explain the importance of things like hand-washing, and why using the latrine is so vital.

  • What about Gift Aid?

    Gift Aid means the UK Government will add 25p in every pound to every donation that you make – ie. that’s £15 added to every £60 toilet twin – at no cost to you. Unfortunately Gift Aid is only an option if you are a UK taxpayer. Toilet roll and soap orders are not eligible for Gift Aid.

  • What about CAF vouchers and Stewardship accounts?

    We accept donations through CAF Vouchers – please make them payable to Tearfund. To twin a toilet using your CAF Card, please visit CAF Online and search for Tearfund. Please write ‘Reference Toilet Twinning’ under Special Instructions. (Tearfund manages all the CAF finances for Toilet Twinning). Please contact us directly once you have done this. As soon as we receive your donation from CAF we will send your certificate out to you.

    PLEASE NOTE: You cannot use CAF vouchers for ordering toilet rolls or soap.

    We can also take donations via Stewardship. Simply search for Tearfund via your Stewardship account and make the payment to them, but include a reference to Toilet Twinning. Then email us to let us know you have made the donation, including any twinning details such as country preference, address to send to, any personalisation etc and we can then process your order.

  • Can I change my order?

    If you need to change details as soon as you’ve ordered we will be able to help.

  • Can I get a refund?

    If you have been charged twice, we will check our account and if there is more than one transaction in your name, we will refund the transaction(s) made in error. Please note: We are not generally able to refund donations, as it is against charity law. PayPal will only allow us to process refunds up to 60 days after the original transaction.

  • How much do you spend on administration?

    Tearfund (the charity that Toilet Twinning is part of) has very lean operating costs. Only 11% is spent on fundraising. The rest is spent either directly in the field or supporting field programmes.

  • Why spend money on photos rather than more toilets?

    The idea of Toilet Twinning is that you display a picture of a latrine, with its GPS coordinates, in your toilet at home – to show that it’s twinned. Some months, we find that around 20% of our donations come from people who say they’ve seen a certificate in someone else’s loo. So initially it may not seem beneficial to spend money on providing photos, but in the long run we have found that it generates a lot more support, and so we can invest in more water and sanitation projects long term.

LOO QUESTIONS

  • Does it cost £60? How much does it cost to build a loo in Africa?

    The cost of a latrine varies dramatically depending where in the world you’re building it. The two biggest factors are the type of latrine you’re building (check out the ‘Latrine Technology’ section for information on different types of latrine designs) and therefore the cost of materials, and the cost of getting the materials to where they need to go. This means a latrine can cost anywhere between £20 – £200 to build and install.

  • Is the photo the actual toilet I’ve twinned with?

    We aim to make sure, where possible, that the picture on the certificate is the actual toilet at the location coordinates printed on the certificate. However, we are dependent on the technology and resources available to our staff and partners who are collecting the information – and they are often working in difficult situations with limited access to technology (and electricity!). If the photo is not an exact match, it will be a similar or nearby toilet. To keep administration costs to a minimum, we twin the same toilet up to 10 times. The likelihood of seeing the same image in someone else’s loo is extremely unlikely, but you may see your twin in our advertising.

  • How many times is a photo used?

    How Toilet Twinning works is that we ask our local partners to send us photos of toilets built by the communities that we’re working in, so that we can use these photos on our Toilet Twinning certificates. We have supplied our partners with GPS cameras, and they email photos every few months to us, as toilets are built. As I’m sure you can imagine, there are lots of logistics involved in our partners getting the photos, including their staff time, fuel costs to the field, etc, that we have to cover within our running costs. Because of these costs, and the essential work we do to minimise our administration overheads, we twin each toilet photo a maximum of ten times – so we get £600 in twinning donations for each photograph gathered by our partners. This means it’s possible that you would see your toilet twin in another toilet in the UK – but very unlikely. Even with the costs involved in getting photos of latrines, and then the cost of the frame and postage etc – we think it’s important that Toilet Twinning sends out physical certificates to everyone who twins – as it actually becomes a really low-cost way of spreading the word about Toilet Twinning’s work – as we currently receive around 20% of our donations each month from people who say that they’re doing it because they’ve seen it in someone else’s loo. So – that means Toilet Twinning certificates in effect become “free advertising” and an encouragement for others to follow suit. That way, we are able to massively increase the impact of the funds raised, without increasing the costs of letting people know about Toilet Twinning in the first place.

  • How many toilets have been built so far?

    Tearfund programmes operating between 2011 and 2016 report that 64,167 toilets were built in local communities. Toilet Twinning does not produce an annual report of its own as we operate under Tearfund’s charity number, so our reporting is part of their annual cycle. We used to operate under Cord’s charity number (until May 2015).

  • Why does each toilet look different?

    One of our main priorities is to ensure that each community’s sanitation issues are addressed in a way that is sustainable and will last. As such, we want to make sure that everything we do is owned by the community – so they are able to maintain the latrines in the long term. The latrines are constructed from readily available materials and this means that the latrines do differ aesthetically from community to community.

  • Tell me about sustainability – do the toilets last forever?

    It generally takes us between three and six years to educate a community to the point where the residents will keep going with all that they have learnt and ensure their toilets are used, maintained, and replaced when necessary. In terms of the initial household latrine that is built by the family, the pit will last around 3-6 years – depending on the number of people in the household, and the depth of the pit. By six years, the pit is likely to be full. Because the family will have benefited from improved health and more productivity within the initial toilet’s shelf life, it is likely that the family will be able to afford to build a new pit latrine to replace the one that is now full. Wherever possible, a latrine featured in a Toilet Twinning certificate, has been built as a result of a programme of education, training, and perhaps subsidisation where absolutely necessary. By working in this way, we ensure our programmes are sustainable, and can be replicated across communities – so that the ripple effect ensures that transformation continues to unfold, and more and more people are able to get out of poverty. So – our simple message is this: a toilet – or at least toilet education – is a gift that lasts a lifetime.

  • Latrine technology – do you build composting loos?

    The water and sanitation experts within our local partner organisations spend quite a bit of time with the community, talking through their sanitation issues and how to best address them. We do not support or promote a single, one-size-fits-all model of latrine across our sanitation programmes: both the physical and socio-cultural context of the populations we work with determine the type of latrine that is built. Concrete is more typically used in areas where the soil is very unstable and will cause the pit to collapse if it is not supported. We know that there are various ways of lining pits, and concrete is not the most common (or preferred) way. However, it is the most practical approach particularly in school / institutional latrine blocks, when cubicles and their underlying pits are built closely together, and are routinely emptied, and so need to be robust. We certainly embrace the concept of composting latrines, and we use the ecological sanitation approach in various countries, such as Uganda and D.R. Congo. The great advantages of composting latrines is that, not only is a valuable fertiliser + soil conditioner made available, but the pits themselves can be shallower (since they are used cyclically, whilst some pits are in use and some pits are sealed whilst decomposition occurs), which means less work in construction and less chance of contaminating a water table.  A great challenge, however, is introducing the Ecosan / composting in the first place: to many people groups, the use of “humanure” is a definite “no”: using village champions and demonstrator households is going to take time.

  • What is guerrilla twinning?

    Guerrilla twinning is, in essence, twinning someone else’s loo for them. You raise the funds to twin a toilet and then present the Toilet Twinning certificate to the person/group of your choice. The term ‘guerrilla twinning’ was coined by a group of very enthusiastic twinners at St. Paul’s Church in Skelmersdale (our first Toilet Twinned Town). When they started raising funds for Toilet Twinning, they raised far more money than expected and so were able to twin more toilets than those in their building. The church decided to present certificates to other organisations/groups/individuals in the town, as a way to spread awareness of the campaign — and to build links between their church and other groups.

    They had the idea of drawing up a ‘hit list’ of people and places in Skelmersdale for whom they wanted to twin toilets. Church members then ‘voted’ on which people/places to twin using our infamous poo stickers. This, we think, is the origin of the phrase ‘guerrilla twinning’ as they liked to think of it is a ‘covert operation’, spreading compassion (not conflict)!

    Once they had raised enough money to twin another toilet, they would contact the next person/group with the most votes! Guerrilla twinning counts towards becoming a Toilet Twinned Town.

  • Can I visit my twin?

    Toilet Twinning is a fundraising venture based in the UK, and those who benefit from a new latrine are not aware of Toilet Twinning’s existence. The way that Tearfund works is that we support local partners who build relationship with poor communities and work to empower them to find solutions to their problems. Families are then given a sense of ownership, rather than having been donated something from a charity in the UK. We highly value the relationship between local partners and communities, and we always aim to work in a way that is culturally sensitive. Therefore, in order for any of our supporters to visit a latrine they have twinned with, we would have to apply to the community leaders for permission to visit, which is a process that would take a few months. If granted permission, supporters would then need to be chaperoned in the village by a Toilet Twinning representative. We hope you understand that unfortunately it is not possible for us to arrange such trips at the moment.

  • How do you monitor projects to ensure money is spent on sanitation?

    Toilet Twinning is a fundraising arm of Tearfund, and as such, Tearfund’s international team ensures that funds sent to partners are being used for intended purposes. Country directors physically check that activities being reported on are consistent with the partner’s approved proposal. On a quarterly basis, Tearfund’s in-country projects officer or coordinator will go to the partners’ offices with the reports and pictures received from partners, and undertake field visits to the sites where the activities are or were implemented. The monitoring visit is undertaken in pairs i.e. A projects officer/coordinator goes with the finance officer to assess the physical evidence of the reported activities against the recorded expenditures. The aspect of value for money for each activity / asset is assessed as part of this audit.

    Tearfund insists on field visits by both programme and finance staff so that they can also talk to local people (beneficiaries), the local leaders, and other stakeholders in the implementation area, to ensure that the reports being sent in are not talking about other agencies’ project achievements/activities. If Tearfund’s country directors notice any management challenges, they arrange meetings with the Board of Directors of local partners – to raise any observed follow up issues so that management can be performance managed, and ideally supported to improve on noted issues, or be dismissed and replaced.

  • How can I see my loo on the supporter map?

    We have a map of our UK supporters so that they can see their loo (and see what’s been happening nearby!).

CERTIFICATES AND DELIVERY

  • How will my certificate be delivered and how long will it take?

    Certificates within the UK are sent second class via Royal Mail. Our standard turnaround time for certificates is 5-6 days; however, you should allow up to 10 working days for your certificate to arrive after placing your order, especially during our busy Christmas months of November and December. If your certificate is for a gift and the big day is looming, please email us at info@toilettwinning.org and we’ll do everything we can to get your order out as fast as possible.

  • My certificate hasn’t arrived yet!

    If your certificate hasn’t arrived and it’s been ten days or more, please get in touch. If you twinned the toilet in celebration of a special occasion and need it urgently (such as a wedding or a birthday) please do let us know and we will email you a Toilet Twinning voucher which you can print off and give to your friend/relative.

  • Is my name on the certificate?

    You can personalise your certificate with your name and/or the name of the person whose toilet is being twinned. The certificate also has the toilet’s location and its longitude and latitude coordinates.

  • Can I twin a friend’s loo and send direct to them?

    Yes – simply select a different delivery address when going through the checkout process and enter your friend’s details. If you are twinning a toilet via the post or on the phone, you can indicate on your order form or over the phone that you’d like the certificate to go to a different address.

  • GPS co-ordinates – how to use

    Longitude and latitude has been used for centuries by sailors, adventurers and explorers to help them pinpoint their exact location on earth. Here at Toilet Twinning we use it to keep track of our bogs. To pinpoint your latrine’s exact location, you need to:

    1. Visit Google Maps online by typing ‘maps.google.co.uk’ into your web browser
    2. In the ‘Search Maps’ field, type the latitude number exactly as you see it on your certificate, including the “dash” at the start and the comma at the end. E.g. “-3.987150,”
    3. Enter a “space”
    4. Type the longitude number exactly as you see it. E.g. “29.918900”
    5. Click search maps
    6. The green arrow will be pointing to the location of your toilet!

    Unfortunately, sometimes the images on Google Maps are not up-to-date enough to show the latrine buildings that were built more recently, and occasionally there are inaccuracies on Google Maps with place names and spelling etc., especially when it involves small and remote towns in rural areas.

  • How can I see my loo on the supporter map?

    We have a map of our UK supporters so that they can see their loo (and see what’s been happening nearby!).

  • Outside UK orders

    You can get involved with Toilet Twinning from anywhere in the world. You will receive a certificate, sent via Royal Mail, and postage is included in your donation. We have people who have twinned their toilets as far away as Tasmania! The cost of twinning your toilet from overseas is GBP£60, converted to your local currency. A good comparison is the exchange rates quoted at airports or other consumer currency exchange shops.

OTHER PROMOTIONAL ITEMS

  • Loo rolls & soap

    We produce a gift range – perfect as alternative gifts which also spread awareness.

    The loo roll (£8) is boxed and features the photos and GPS coordinates of three latrines: one in Vetkhali, Bangladesh; the second in Pujehun district, Sierra Leone; the third in Asuret, Uganda. The soap (£6) is a boxed, 100g vanilla and almond square bar stamped with the Toilet Twinning logo.

  • How is the money from these sales used?

    We use all the money raised to fund Tearfund’s water and sanitation work in poor communities across the world – bringing clean water, decent sanitation and hygiene education about hand-washing and other health-related principles to tens of thousands of people.

  • Gift box

    The gift set (£80) consists of a twinned toilet (framed certificate), a boxed loo roll and a boxed gift soap: all in a beautiful presentation box. The £60 twinning donation is eligible for gift aid (gift aid cannot be applied to the £20 that covers the soap, loo roll and presentation box).

  • Make a Stand kits

    If you’d like to get others excited about Toilet Twinning, we’d like to make it as easy as 1-2-3

    1. Ask us for a Make-A-Stand kit comprising of 5 or more framed certificates, posters, leaflets, a T-shirt, paper bags.
    2. In return for a donation of £60, you can let people choose their Toilet Twinning certificate from the selection we’ll send you
    3. Take payment via cash or cheque – and then arrange to make a BACS transfer to the Toilet Twinning bank account (minus the cost of posting back any left-over certificates and unused resources).

    You’ll find all the forms and details you need in the Make-A-Stand box.