Australians are being misled into paying millions to a multi-national company that represents some of our biggest charities, according to a number of former contractors.
In the past two years Appco has made $100 million from Australian charities through selling merchandise and signing up donors to monthly pledges.
The drive to make money created a culture of bizarre sales rituals, the bastardisation of staff and the "ugly" mockery of the very people the company is raising money for, whistle-blowers have told Sunday Night in a special investigation.
Some of Appco's mega profits come through the work of vibrant young people who many Australians would have encountered door knocking neighbourhoods and fundraising at shopping centres.
Referred to as "chuggers", short for "charity muggers", the frontline workers solicit donations on behalf of charities, sometimes claiming that more than 90 per cent of the donations they receive will make it into the hands of the needy.
Not so, said Ivan Alloshe, a former Appco contractor who worked his way up the ranks in the empire he now wants to expose.
"The reality is the amount of money that doesn't go to the cause is unethical," he told Sunday Night.
Alloshe reached the owner/partner level within the Appco organisation, overseeing a team of 20 contractors who canvassed for charity sales.
These "chuggers" helped Appco rake in millions, often signing generous Australians up to give monthly donations to organisations such as Camp Quality, the Peter MacCallum Cancer Foundation or the RSL.
On the Camp Quality sign-up form it stated that 100 per cent of the money given would go to the charity's bank account.
Alloshe said while that might be true at first, the detail about what really happens is "in the fine print".
"There's a deal done between Appco and the charity, and the money goes back to Appco in a payment form," Alloshe said.
In the first year the amount paid to Appco would be 93 per cent of the donation, with Camp Quality banking only seven per cent.
Both parties state if the subscriptions continue for three years, the charity will come out ahead. But Alloshe said donors do not typically last long.
"A lot people who sign up for these things do it for three months maybe a year then they stop," he said.
Contractors working for Appco marketing companies are paid on commission only and many claim they earned only $4 or $5 an hour.
Tegan Gregory lived the company culture where a lot of pressure is placed on meeting sales targets – no matter the cost.
"It just becomes normal to not care or not feel," she said.
"It’s just the things that become normal and become a joke, even joking about the charity, joking about what we do," said Gregory, who recalls colleagues high-fiving each other after bagging donations.
Ms Gregory said she adopted the culture out of necessity and desperation.
"If I don't make any sales, I am not eating tonight, you know?" she told Sunday Night.
Tyrone Corbett witnessed "disgusting and demeaning" punishments while working for an Appco-contracted company in Tasmania.
"One of my friends failed to reach his targets so everyone hovered around as he was forced to shove a cigarette up his butt pull it out and smoke it," he said.
Videos from other offices show sales teams forced into "slug races", or "cock fights" and simulated sex acts.
Adrian Dieguz recalled how one colleague won $200 during a Special Olympics drive by submitting a photo of himself sitting on a toilet, holding a booklet featuring a girl with Down syndrome.
"Don't make fun of the charity that we are supporting," Dieguz said.
"This is why people are giving so much money and it was just ugly, ugly to see."