Bridging the gap between Business Improvement Districts or Councils and Charity Retail
The conference provided a timely opportunity to announce a new, strategic partnership between the two organisations: the chance to bring closer together an organisation that represents around eight and a half thousand charity shops up and down the country and a company that speaks regularly to hundreds of people working in “place.”
Charity Retail is an established sector in our nation’s high streets, with over 10,000 shops across the UK, but far from being a threat to “traditional” retail, it is a sector that is complementing existing town centre offers and offers vibrancy to areas that would otherwise be struggling even more than they perhaps are.
Additionally, the charity retail sector offers a wide range of other benefits, with nearly a quarter of a million volunteers and over 90% of goods sold being donated items that would potentially otherwise end up in landfill.
And charity retail offers a vital shop-front for charities, generating a massive £270 million annually in charitable donations.
But there remains a gap between charity retail as a sector and other high-street retail, particularly independents, and partnerships working to improve places.
A Place for Charity Retail – an emerging campaign
Our aim at Revive & Thrive is to bring these different stakeholders closer together for the benefit of all who work in or visit our high streets, town and city centres, and we do recognise that this will be a two-way process. This is why we are together launching A Place for Retail Charity to help stakeholders appreciate the value of place management and of charity retailers.
As with commercial retail, engagement with the charity retail sector for BIDs and other place partnerships hits two snags – finding a “way in” with national chains and convincing independents to get involved. To date, charity retail has been largely overlooked by partnerships as it’s perceived to be easier to work with commercial retailers. Thanks to our new partnership with the CRA, we can engage with charity retailers nationally – emphasising through this channel the value of getting involved.
We will be speaking at the CRA national conference later this year and will use that opportunity to highlight the benefits to charities of getting involved with BIDs and other place partnerships, and encouraging them to understand the financial and social returns they can expect to get back, from BIDs in particular.
Equally, we will continue to highlight to BIDs, local authorities and partnerships the benefits available to them from engaging with the charity retail sector – from the massive army of volunteers on their high streets, who are already committed to social giving, to improved governance and easier project delivery and wider public engagement.
And there is a further benefit for Revive & Thrive too – as our Local Legends campaign continues, we think we will identify scores of fantastic initiatives up and down the country that continue to go undetected that volunteers and employees in the charity retail sector will help us to unearth and bring to a wider audience.
So, this appears to be a win-win scenario for all those involved and we are excited by the chance to help places become even better by strengthening the engagement between existing place management groups and what is now an established sector in our nation’s high streets.
To find out more about the work of the Charity Retail Association, please visit their website: www.charityretail.org.uk and contact Matt Powell if you want to find out more about A Place for Charity Retail.