Social value of charity shops

The 2024 Charity Retail Survival Guide: How to navigate challenge and embrace opportunity

Guest blog by Charity Fleetcare

The current ‘state of the nation’ poses significant challenges for all – especially the UK charity retail sector. A perfect storm of a cost of living crisis, staff and volunteer shortages, rising demand for donated goods and inflation-wrecked budgets. More than just recognising the challenges, we’ve put together some straightforward, easy-to-follow advice to help charity retailers better navigate these turbulent times.

Challenge 1: The high demand for high quality goods

”Total expenditure at 35 charity retailers rose by 14% to £554m between 2021-22 and 2022-23”.
Charity Shops Survey 2023

The cost of living crisis has made an already tough job tougher. As social and economic inequalities grow, so does the demand for charity services. As families struggle, and reliance on donated goods in your shops increases, what can you do to cope with the rising demand? 

With fewer high-quality donations hitting the shops as people cut spending on new items, hold on to them for longer and increasingly look to sell online through sites like Vinted and Facebook, how can you keep the volume (and the value) of the products in your shops as high as possible?

Streamline and simplify to improve the quality of your donations

  • Be clear about the types of goods you want to stock and the condition they need to be in. 
  • Make it clear where, when and how you accept donations 
  • Along with physical drop-offs and home collections, how about community donation centres?
  • Optimise your collection and drop-off route planning to save transport costs
  • Use stock management and a POS system to process, price and store donations 
  • Make the most of your unique assets – your physical shops, community relations, and products
  • Embrace new online donation opportunities and social media 

Most of all, make it easy. Easy for people to donate quality items including that all-important Gift Aid. Easy for you to attract and manage the quality donations you need.

Talk to us about how Charity Fleet Pro can drive up to 70% more in Gift Aid donations for your charity.

Challenge 2: The Volunteer Crunch

”36% of charities and community groups struggle to recruit the staff they need and are subsequently failing to meet demand”.

If decreasing donations and increasing demand weren’t challenging enough, recruiting and retaining the people to ‘do more with less’ has become increasingly difficult over recent years.  A combination of factors including Brexit, the pandemic, and an ageing population have conspired to limit charities’ ability to get enough hands on deck necessary to properly deliver services. This trend reflects a wider decline in volunteering across the country over the past decade.

What can you do to attract (and retain) the right people to help your charity deliver?

  • Community, community, community: How can you move your shops closer to the heart of your communities? What about running workshops and events? Drop-ins, talks, small socials even? And what about partnering with local businesses and organisations to introduce the great work you do to a new, wider audience? 
  • Invest in staff and volunteers: Share training programs, workshops, and mentorship opportunities to help people lean on the job. Support your people to become the best version of themselves with new skills, certification, and the ability to really fulfil their potential.

The more supported and appreciated people feel, the more likely they are to choose to work with you and continue making a positive contribution. Often though the little things that add up to make volunteering your time an appealing thing to do. In the case of charity retailers that run vehicles, things like:

  • Keeping staff safe with driver dash cams and 360-degree cameras 
  • An app that means they don’t get stuck in traffic or get home from work late
  • Stress-busting live pick-up information that makes collecting every donation a breeze
  • Performance insights and rewards so everyone’s hard work and initiative are properly recognised
  • The smartest, greenest vehicles that are a credit to your community and people are proud to drive 
  • New driving skills certification that keeps your drivers up to date with the latest legalities protects them from inadvertently breaking the law. 

The kinds of positive, proactive and long lasting contributions that you can make for your staff with Charity Fleet Pro and Driver Training.

Challenge 3: The Rising Cost of Everything

“The charity sector will experience a real-term income drop of £800m between 2022/23 and 2023/24.”
OBR (Office for Budget Responsibility)

We’ve all experienced the damaging effects of inflation over the last few years with rising prices eating away at purchasing power and profits. For the charity retail sector rising operational costs are a major challenge – however much your income is rising, if inflation is rising faster your real-term income will fall. 

Here’s a range of cost-saving strategies to help you combat modern price pressures, and even present new sustainable opportunities.

Cost Reduction Strategies:

  • Energy Efficiency: With energy costs through the roof there’s never been a better time to focus on efficiencies. Upgrade to LED lighting and efficient heating and cooling systems. Talk to your energy supplier to negotiate better rates and explore renewable energy options.
  • Renegotiate contracts and service agreements: It’s amazing how often we let contracts expensively trundle along in the background – all for the sake of a quick review and refresh. Where do you have opportunities to negotiate better terms on rents, phones, utilities and the rest?  Review your contracts, negotiate lower rates or find alternative providers.
  • Optimise your vehicle fleet: Are you throwing money away on expensive, old-fashioned vehicles? Or wasteful leases? Are you using new telematics yet? M efficiencies that give your donors the kind of collection service they deserve and the savings you need? Time your vehicles looked good, drove great and worked harder (and cheaper) for you?
  • Reduce Waste: You probably won’t have to look too hard to spot wasteful processes. The important thing is to take that step back and actually look.
  • Review Staffing: Are you overstaffed sometimes? Understaffed? Either will cost you. The more flexible you can be the better for everyone. 

The way forward in 2024

The challenges facing UK charity retailers in 2024 are real. Very real. But they can be overcome. Using creative strategies, new technology, and by developing strong partnerships, you won’t just be able to battle through the difficulties that the year ahead is sure to present – you can beat them.

The answer, as always, lies within – your ability to adapt to the needs of those you serve, to make the most of every resource at your disposal and to bring your teams with you on your journey by showing them the support and empathy they deserve and expect. 

Talk to us about how our specialist Charity Fleet services can help with new Charity Fleet Pro and Driver Training created especially for charities. Contact us now on 0800 014 9797. Or arrange a call back here.

26/02/2024 11:58