The Charity Retail Association (CRA) estimates that charity shop volunteer numbers are at least 20% down on 2019 levels and is launching a campaign to match volunteers with charity shops and highlight the benefits of volunteering in charity retail.
Charity shops have experienced a surge in donations and rising sales since re-opening, but many shops are struggling to recruit enough new volunteers to fill gaps left by volunteers who have not returned following the lockdown and to keep pace with growing interest in buying second hand.
The CRA is asking anyone interested in volunteering in a charity shop to sign up at: www.charityshopvolunteer.org.uk. The platform has been built free of charge by tech company Wil-U, which are on a mission to provide innovative technology that revolutionises how communities connect with charities, and you can be matched to a shop in your locality and in your area of interest.
Robin Osterley, Chief Executive of the CRA, said:
“The public has been fantastic in supporting charity shops recover from the lockdown with shoppers and donors returning in large numbers. Charity retail staff and volunteers have worked with great energy, enthusiasm, and creativity to ensure that charity shops have bounced back strongly from the enforced closure during the lockdown. Consequently, many charity shops are now outperforming the level of sales achieved pre-covid, which is an incredible achievement given the many challenges presented by the pandemic.
“Based on feedback from our members, we estimate that charity shops are operating with at least 20% fewer volunteers than before the pandemic. This is potentially causing an issue in their ability to respond to the great demand for their services.
“With the growing public interest in reuse, now is a great time to volunteer in a charity shop and to be part of a great team raising money for charities, helping the environment by promoting reuse and bringing a real buzz and sense of community back to our high streets. Whether you have previously volunteered in a shop or not, you can sign up to be matched to a charity shop in need of volunteers at: www.charityshopvolunteer.org.uk, or pop into a local shop and speak to the team there.”