Shops & Social Media

How charity shops can use social media to increase donations and attract new customers

With almost every high street retailer across the globe using social media to boost sales and raise brand awareness, an overwhelming number of charity shops are starting to do the same.

However, there’s more to charity shop social media than simply posting the occasional photo on Facebook. By being creative and thinking of ways to engage with social media users, charities can increase donations and attract more customers through their doors.

Emphasise the difference donations make

Perhaps one of the best ways to increase donations involves showing people how their old clothes and unwanted belongings can make a difference. Maybe an old handbag could buy a scientist’s supplies for a day or a book collection could pay for a nurse to visit a patient at home. By sharing photos of donated items along with a short message explaining where the money goes, you can show that whether it’s a board game or a pair of shoes, every donation helps.

Share inspirational stories

To further raise awareness of your great work, consider sharing links to articles that tell the stories of the people you’ve helped. Charities providing respite services, for example, could interview a full time carer to find out what a day off means to them. Those that offer counselling to people battling addiction could share the story of someone who has overcome dependency and gone on to achieve inspirational things. By sharing real life stories online, prospective donors can see that their contributions make a difference.

Highlight the personal benefits of donating

By using social media to remind people just how good it can feel to have a tidy up at home and free up space, you could encourage more people to donate things they no longer need.

Sometimes even the most wonderful donation will sit on a charity shop’s shelf for many weeks before the right person comes in and makes it their own. However, by making the most of social media to promote your stock to local people, you could increase the chances of that special something being snapped up sooner.

Find the right people in the right place at the right time

With different social networks having a variety of offerings and audiences, try to avoid posting the same content across all platforms. Instead, question who you want to reach out to and what these target audiences will most likely respond to.

For example, by sharing images of eye-catching donations such as party dresses, costume jewellery or vintage dinner sets on Instagram, you may grab the attention of fashion lovers and nostalgic bargain hunters. To raise awareness of inspirational stories, however, Facebook could be more ideal as it lends itself to longer posts and allows users to easily share each story with their friends.

Build relationships

Using social media is about more than just promoting a shop and its contents, it’s important to have conversations with users and interact with them. Twitter is a fantastic tool for this and can help you build relationships with current and prospective volunteers, customers and the wider community. Reach out to bloggers and influential social media users as this could lead to collaborations in the future.

Show people why preloved is popular

Thanks to an increase in high street vintage stores, sixties-inspired celebrity clothing lines, and campaigns such as Knickers Models Own, second-hand clothes are back in fashion. But not only are people looking to old clothes in a bid to recreate popular trends from the past, an increasing number of people are turning to sustainable fashion thanks to Twitter campaigns such as #WhoMadeMyClothes?.

As a result, there has never been a better time for charity shops to make the most of their sustainable preloved pieces by promoting them on social media. Not only could you attract existing vintage lovers, but you may also convert those who love to buy new things into the charity shop advocates of the future.

When faced with time and budget limitations, it’s understandable that social media may drop down your list of priorities. But by sharing the wonderful work that you do with online audiences, you could encourage brand new donors and customers to walk through the doors and make stock fly off the shelves.

This blog post was written by charity shop blogger and volunteer, Jenni Hill. Jenni regularly writes about her love for charity shop fashion, volunteering and saving money. To read more, visit her blog Can’t Swing a Cat.