Charities are meeting rising demand for good value, ethical, environmentally friendly shopping options. Increasing numbers of consumers are turning to second hand goods as they try to cope with the cost-of-living crisis and shrinking household budgets at the same time as making efforts to cut carbon emissions and reduce landfill waste. More shoppers will soon be able to make their purchases with a new gift card that is accepted at thousands of charity shops across the UK.
The Charity Shop Gift Card was originally launched to offer gift givers a sustainable option when buying presents and the chance to donate money to good causes. The scheme began in November 2021 and was the UK’s first multi-retailer gift card exclusively for charity shops. When it launched it attracted a variety of smaller retailers, and one national charity retailer, Marie Curie. It is now scaling up from around 300 shops to around 2,500, with lots more chains keen to participate.
The Charity Shop Gift Card was the brainchild of two passionate charity shoppers, Lottie Bradley and Sarah Cox, who met through the Charity Retail Association. Lottie, who has worked in charity retail for five years, is currently retail design manager for Save the Children, where she has led the vision for their diverse new trading environments. She loves how charity shops represent their community and is fascinated by the stories behind second-hand items. She saw a gap in the market for an eco-friendly gifting solution that could unite charity shops on the high-street.
Sarah has worn pre-loved for as long as she can remember; from hand-me-downs as a child to Saturdays spent rummaging in vintage clothes shops as a 90s teenager. Later in life Sarah found that donated items became a necessity rather than a choice when she had to rebuild her and her children's lives following a change in circumstances. Partly because of her experiences at that time, she wanted to find a solution that would enable people in financial hardship to shop ‘for free’ in charity shops so that they could choose the items they need with dignity and autonomy.
Putting their heads together they decided that a gift card that could be made available to councils offering welfare assistance, that the recepients could spend in charity shops selling quality second-hand items, was the answer.
As well as the good that the card does itself, the charity that Lottie and Sarah set up is a social enterprise, with a minimum of 65% of profits going towards funding charity gift cards for good causes to donate to the communities they support.
On their website, the founders say: “Councils and other support agencies can purchase the charity cards as part of their welfare assistance offering, to help financially vulnerable individuals and families. But the good doesn’t stop there – when The Charity Shop Gift Card is spent in participating retailers, it supports the great causes they represent. It also protects the environment by keeping usable clothing and other items out of landfill, reducing carbon emissions and reducing production stress on the environment.”
Social enterprises and community interest companies (CICs) reinvest any surplus money back into the community, rather than giving profits to shareholders or keeping them. Have you got an idea for a CICs that would benefit local people? Voscur runs regular training on setting up CICs and our next free, online course takes place on Thursday 16 June, 2022 - 12:30 to 14:00. It’s a 90-minute lunchtime session suitable for beginners, with plenty of time to ask questions. For more information visit our VCSE Academy website.