By MELISSA CLARKE

The Lotteries Commission is investigating concerns over companies profiting from selling charity Lotto tickets.

Buyers have questioned the rising price of the Fundraising with Lotto tickets.

Commissioned sales teams take more than half the earnings and programme organisers make twice as much as the charities - but the charities say they are satisfied with the arrangement.

The programme has been run by Affinity3 NZ, an Australian-owned company, for two years.

Commission spokeswoman Helen Morgan-Banda said it was addressing concerns about how Affinity3 conducted its business.

The Combo Lotto tickets (50c at a normal retailer) are bought in lines of five at $2 a ticket, up from their initial price of $1.

The price rise is to accommodate charities no longer selling the tickets themselves, preferring Affinity3 to organise marketing companies to sell the tickets on their behalf.

The marketing companies arrange the sales on a commission basis to individuals and companies.

The result is a smaller margin to charities, but a greater volume of tickets sold, so they make more in the end. The commissioned sales teams are paid by the increase in ticket value.

One of Affinity3's contracted sales companies is Cobra Group. General manager Pip Mahrtens said less than 5c a ticket stayed with Cobra.

The rest of the extra ticket cost went to the commissioned sales teams who sold tickets door-to-door and at outdoor events and locations.

Affinity3 works with up to 500 charities in the Fundraising with Lotto programme.

Andrew Buxton, general manager of Affinity3 Australia, which owns Affinity3 NZ, said the charities could use a commissioned sales team, which Affinity3 could organise through Cobra, or sell the tickets themselves, keeping the extra $1.20.

Koru Care Charitable Trust, which organises funding and support for seriously ill and disabled children, is one of the charities to commission the sales of their Lotto tickets.

It says it has been completely satisfied with its involvement. Event manager Tim Kay said the charity did not have the resources to sell the tickets itself.

"It isn't costing us anything and we're getting payment in return for having our name and logo on the tickets. We're more than comfortable with the arrangement."

Royal Life Saving Society fundraising co-ordinator David Taylor is also satisfied.

"Our volunteers are busy poolside and in life-saving programmes."

The programme made $11,500 for the society in April alone.

The society and Koru Care say the sales method earns them more in the long run.

But some ticket-buyers feel the profit made by the companies involved is contrary to the spirit of giving.