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Saturday, 23 October 2021
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Fundraising innovation for charity shops to raise more money during the pandemic

According to the Charity Retail Association, the third sector is facing significant revenue loss of up to £28m for each month of lockdown, with charity shops currently being closed.

Vintage Cash Cow provides relief through an innovative fundraising service that helps charities sell their unsold and non-saleable donations via a hassle-free retail solution with no overhead costs. This way, more money is being raised for the end cause.

The company operates a free-to-use postal service for a pandemic-friendly way to recycle, upcycle and rehome charities’ donations. Although non-essential shops currently find themselves in a survival battle with no ability to use their facilities, central warehouses can take advantage of this downtime to sort and send stock to Vintage Cash Cow. This way, they can secure a double win: source extra income during the lockdown period and free up their floor space for additional donations.

The Vintage Cash Cow team learned that charity shops typically sell their copper, pewter, silver plate and other items for as little as 5p a kilo, with many preferring to give them away at no cost just to make more room for the next donations. In light of this, the Vintage Cash Cow charity team has launched a metal price promise, where it pays a guaranteed minimum of £1per kilo for all non-precious scrap metals.

However, the service doesn’t just buy non-precious metal. Other items include jewellery, precious metals, silver and silver-plated pieces, watches, medals, militaria, toys, cameras, old currency, and more. Items are accepted in any condition, including broken or damaged.

Regular customers, including Sue Ryder Care, enjoy an average of £45 per box sent, although the most valuable box sent so far by a charity shop was sold for over £850. Since launching its service with charities, Vintage Cash Cow has bought over £200,000 worth of unsold and non-saleable items.

Maximising income

Garry Wilkinson, head of Charity Partnerships at Vintage Cash Cow, said:

“Maximising income is, of course, vital for charities, but, for most, storage space is also very limited, and we can help them to increase both. After the first lockdown, shops received far more donations than usual and were struggling to sort the stock and clear the shop floor. The result was that many charities were forced to dispose of lower value items to clear space for these surplus donations. So we invite them to give us a call while their shops are closed to get them ready to use our service once they reopen. It is very easy, and the service is completely free. We will provide them with a convenient way to generate additional income and deal with an increased level of donations effectively at a time when they are also struggling with the impact of lockdown on their income streams.”

David Weaver, co-founder of Vintage Cash Cow, added:

“We want to make sure that charities are able to maximise every single donation people are making, so we offer them our free to use service. We’re here to support the third sector, acting like an add-on, a specialist sales operation.”

For charities without shops, Vintage Cash Cow can also help them advertise to their supporters, encouraging the donation of appropriate items which the charity can easily turn into cash.

David concluded:

“We have a wide experience in the third sector and the commercial market, so charities can be assured that they’re in good hands. This way, they remove the risk of selling items below market value as our team of experts can provide a fair valuation for every product category we handle.”

Minimising environmental impact

Aside from the financial incentives, putting unsold and non-saleable donations back into the recycling circle has many environmental benefits. Garry explains, “The charity partnerships are an important part of our business, as we can make sure that nothing that could be reused or recycled ends up in a landfill.  Not only is this important for the majority of charity shop managers, but it also supports many of the aims of the Government’s new Environment Bill.”

Future plans

Head of Charity Partnerships Garry Wilkinson has worked for several charities over the last 18 years, including three years as the chairman of the National Association of Hospice Fundraisers. He joined the company in early 2019 after Vintage Cash Cow realised that it had several hundred charity shops registered as normal customers, which required a separate approach. Together, the charity team managed to sign up an additional 1,400-1,500 shops by March 2020 and had a constant stream of about 350 monthly charity boxes before the start of the pandemic.

Garry said:

“Currently, we have over 1,800 charity shops from over 270 charitable organisations across the UK using our service. Those working with Vintage Cash Cow include AGE UK, YMCA, Cats Protection, Sue Ryder, Mind, RSPCA and many more nationals, as well as smaller independent charities and over 90 hospices too. Cancer Research UK, OXFAM and British Red Cross have also expressed their interest in launching a trial of the service in some of their regions when Lockdown 3 is over. Aside from organisations already committed to launch, we have in the region of a further 3,000 shops waiting to start using Vintage Cash Cow. Lockdown has, of course, been very challenging. However, we have also spoken to a lot of senior decision-makers at charities throughout the UK who are really keen to improve the income generated from their shops post-lockdown and see how our service can become an important part of this.”

The company expects to grow the number of charity shop customers by 140% over the next six months, to over 4,000 shops. By this time next year, the aim is to have over 6,000 charity shops using the service, which is over half of all the charity shops in the UK.

The registration process

Charity shops wanting to find out more can fill in a simple contact form on the website, and they will receive a phone call from Garry to answer any questions about the service. Shops receive a welcome email and have a charity pack posted out to them, which includes a product brochure, posters and flash-cards, showing which items can and can’t be accepted. When the first box is ready, Vintage Cash Cow’s customer service team will organise a free collection of the items. Each box can weigh up to 30kg. The service works regardless of a charity’s size, whether it has one shop or 700 shops. As well as using the service as an outlet for their unsold and non-saleable donations, shop managers can also confidently promote the donation of more antique, collectable and metal items and know that they have a reliable outlet to sell them.

Mission care said:

“As a small charity, we need to maximise every opportunity to raise funds, and Vintage Cash Cow seemed to be the perfect place to send unsold bric-a-brac.”

Garry explained:

“We know that it can take time for a charity to understand which items will make the most money. That is why we have created a range of resources to help charities maximise the value of their boxes. We also offer ongoing communication from our customer service team to support charities throughout the process and help them to grow their income. The aim is to make the process as smooth as possible for them.”

Brace said:

“Really quick service and had a phone call within just three days of sending off the box and a cheque followed the day after. I would definitely recommend it.” 

For more details, please visit: www.vintagecashcow.co.uk/fundraising.

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