One of the biggest risks and challenges within charity retail is donations. Unlike other high street retailers, we have very little control over what we sell in our shops as we never know what will come in through the doors and in what quantities.
It’s especially difficult when we have a number of specialist shops, which include two furniture shops, bridal shop, children’s shop and our vintage shop and its challenges such as this that make Charity retail such an exciting sector to be involved in.
The donation drive-thru idea, like all good ideas, came from a conversation over a cup of tea with a colleague. As much as I’d like to take the credit for it, it was them who suggested the idea. The idea being that we have a donation day at our warehouse so that people could drop off their bags of clothing, boxes of books and other items without running the gauntlet of parking in town centres.
We already offer a collection service to collect furniture and bags of donations from people’s homes but the reality is that nearly all our donated stock is brought into our shops by donors themselves and we are aware that shops with parking outside or nearby receive far more donations than those in town centre locations.
The first donation drive-thru day happened in June and it was a runaway success. We had 48 vehicles drop off over 180 bags and boxes of donations. We were overwhelmed by the positive response it received and how far some donors had travelled to be able to unload large amounts of donations.
To date, we have held five donation drive-thru days and the idea continues to develop. We have a team of five volunteers to unload vehicles so donors don’t need to leave their vehicles which also allows people with disabilities to donate items and support the hospice.
It’s just off the M60, so really convenient, and an easy solution for people who want to recycle or declutter, but aren’t able to head to a charity shop, park up, and carry lots of bulky items, bags or boxes.
We’re also able to Gift Aid donations meaning the donated items can raise an additional 25% for the hospice if the donor is a UK taxpayer.
It has also allowed us to begin sorting the items as they are donated so that shops can request specific stock they are short of, such as children’s clothes, ladies wear, electrical items etc. this allows us to free up staff and volunteer time in the shops to focus on serving our customers.
We also use the opportunity to sell a range of new goods and donated items on the day and promote our other services such as house clearances and our online shops.
The generosity of our supporters never fails to amaze me and to date, we have taken over 746 bags of clothing and also multi gyms, wardrobes, TV’s plus so much more.
The drive-thru days are now a monthly occurrence and it helps us guarantee stock whilst allowing us a degree of control over when we receive donations and how these are distributed through our network of shops.
The drive-thru donations days take place at St Ann’s Hospice Distribution Centre, Bankfield Industrial Estate, Unit A1, Coronation Street, Reddish, SK5 7SE. The next one is on Saturday 16th November and drivers can drop by any time between 10am and 3pm.
A selection of some of the items we received from one of our donation drive-thru's.