Thursday, 28 May 2009

Charity Shops (from Third Sector, 23 Jan 2008)

In his comment of 9 January. John Knight points out that "charity shops are firmly embedded not only in our high streets but also in our consciousness of charity and charities."

He is correct, but therein lies a real challenge for fundraising professionals in the UK.

Exceeding £110M sounds impressive at first, but let's take a closer look at that charity shop income. Spread over 7,000 or so shops, the average income per shop is about £15,700 per year. Assuming 250 working days per year, that means a charity shop's average income per day is just £63. And if a charity shop is open more than 300 days a year, that daily average is even lower.

When we encourage charity shop donations and purchases, are we making the most of our organisation's resources (cash, volunteers, property)? Are we developing strong relationships with our current supporters and would-be donors, encouraging them to give generously at their fullest potential?

Charity shops (or thrift stores, as we call them in the US) can an integral part of a comprehensive fundraising strategy, but as competition for the donated pound becomes increasingly fierce, we must ask ourselves if £63 per day is the best we can do.

Perhaps charity shops are too firmly entrenched in the collective UK conscience. Let's work to expand the UK public's knowledge of not-for-profit organisations and their needs, and work to maximise the impact of every donated pound and volunteer hour while we work to embed a new paradigm of philanthropy into the consciousness of the United Kingdom.

Rick Holland CFRE

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