Giving the Gift of Time - Where do your charity shop donations go?
1. Sold in store
Of course, your charity shop bag donations are often resold in the shop you donate them to! Taking your donations in when the shops are open makes a big difference - or charities miss out on the opportunity to apply Gift Aid, which adds 25% extra value to the donation for those who are eligible. Also, it ensures your donations end up benefiting the charity - avoiding those who rifle through donations left outside the shop and take the best quality stock before it reaches the staff and volunteers.
But where else could your charity shop donations end up?
charity shop donations
Where more value can be achieved from reaching a wider audience, specialist items will be sent to the eBay team. It's really helpful to have volunteers in the shops with specialist knowledge on books or antiques, so they can spot the hidden gems amongst the rest of the donations. CDs and DVDs may also get sent onto specialist resellers, like Music Magpie.
3. Transferred to another shop
Some shops have much easier access to donate items - such as free car parks outside - whilst others sit on busy high streets where most donations tend to come in much smaller carrier bags. Also, some stores sit amongst many other charity shops, whilst others are the only charity shop in the area. These factors mean that the level of donations each shop receives from the public varies significantly. Some have more than they can manage, and others would have empty shelves if they relied on donations from the local public alone. As a result, donations are moved between shops, depending where there is the need for stock.
The diverse mix of charity shops Thames Hospice has, also creates a need to move stick between shops based on where it will sell for the best price - vintage items will be sent to the specialist vintage shops, in Windsor and Marlow, whilst lower value items will sell well in the £1 shop, Bag a Bargain, in Blackwater.
This is a relatively new venture for Thames Hospice, and one that is proving very popular. Your donated furniture may end up being completely transformed; restored, painted and resold for a lot more than its original value. These upcycling skills are really in demand, tapping perfectly into the recycle and craft trends. The studio receives many commissions to upcycle furniture for clients, and the volunteer roles are really popular for those wanted to learn new skills.
Some donations are not suitable for re-selling, for example clothes with holes in them, or games with pieces missing. So charity shops work closely with recycling companies, such as 'Choice' which specialises in sorting and recycling clothes which are not suitable for sale in charity shops. Donations that can then be worn or used again will get sorted, packaged and sent onto people in need in less developed countries. Those items not suitable to be worn again are sent to specialist fibre reclamation plants where they can then start a new lease of life as a blanket, mattress stuffing, polishing materials and more. Going down this route means millions of unsaleable donations are saved from landfill sites.
Sadly, flytipping does happen at some shops. This means charities also have to make regular visits to the local waste disposal sites, which is both costly and time-consuming. Different councils have different rules; some offer the service for free, while others have caps on the level of items they will accept.
So charities go to great lengths to get the maximum value from the items you donate. All so the shops can raise much-needed funds to support the vital work of the Hospice.
You can read more from Marianne over the coming months, or via her website here. Why not follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Google+ while you're at it?