Traditionally, when you speak about charity donations most people immediately think of money. However, with the way that society has changed over the past few years, so has the way that people like to support charities.

There is a new generation of donors emerging who like to either see exactly where their donation is going or to have some kind of ‘experience’ as part of the donation process. As far as the latter is concerned, sponsored events (particularly those of the more adrenaline-fuelled variety) are nothing new, albeit becoming an increasingly popular way of donating money as opposed to just writing a cheque.

The real change we have seen in recent months, however, is the way that people have moved towards donating actual goods in lieu of money. A prime example of this is a scheme that we are currently running at Strode Park Foundation: our Giving Tree. With a lot of events coming up in the next few weeks, we realised that we were desperate for gifts and needed to find a way to get these donated. Whilst we could have certainly asked the public for money in order to buy these ourselves, as mentioned this is not something that would necessarily yield the amounts that we would need. Ask someone to put some money in a charity pot and you will generally get one or two pounds at best. With our Giving Tree scheme, however, we give the donor a list of specific items that we would like. These range from those smaller items such as sweets, candles and toiletries right up to alcohol and gift vouchers.

We ran this scheme for the first time recently at one of our local supermarkets and were blown away by the response. Our donors were particularly pleased that they could take something away to remind them to donate later that day (as opposed to being put on the spot there and then with a charity pot). They felt far more involved in the donation process and were happier with the knowledge that they would be donating something that we specifically need and that would definitely be put to good use. We are looking to run this scheme at a variety of venues over the forthcoming weeks and can’t wait to see the results.

Another way in which we have seen an upsurge in donations recently is those which have been made to our charity shops. We have two shops (one at 19 Bank Street, Herne Bay, Kent, CT6 5EY and one at 5 St Anne’s Road, Tankerton, Whitstable, CT5 2DN), which are fantastic fundraising resources for us. Both shops are extremely busy and we, therefore, need a constant flow of good quality second-hand goods to sell. Once again, whilst many people cannot necessarily afford to give cash donations, they are able to donate the items they no longer need which we can then, in turn, convert to cash sales.

The popularity of ‘life streamlining’ programmes on television currently and the well-publicised environmental benefit of buying second hand instead of new has most definitely contributed to the level of donations that we are receiving. We are in fact in the process of recruiting additional volunteers just to keep up with the quantities that we are receiving. If you are interested in joining us please check out www.strodepark.org.uk/get-involved/volunteer for details on how to sign up.

It’s certainly good to see that, whatever your personal circumstances may be, there is always a way that you can make that donation and continue to support the charities that you love.

(Written by Christina Jones, Fundraiser at Strode Park Foundation)