Yesterday morning, on the 14th of November, the whatCharity marketing team attended the Charity Retail Association’s Annual General Meeting. We continue to strive to understand the needs of the charity sector as a whole, and that includes charity shops.

More than 233,000 people volunteer in charity shops, according to the latest CRA report. Volunteers, skills-based and non-skilled, are at the core of charity retailing – contributing not only funding for various causes but being responsible for recycling and offering various job opportunities for people needing to enhance their CV or gain work experience. We believe our upgraded search functionality can make a positive difference in improving the way the public search for charity retailers.

Throughout the conference, we heard from a number of interesting and informative speakers. Wayne Hemingway, founder and owner of Hemingway design, gave a warm and insightful journey into the life and works of an up-clycling-loving, politically-minded designer. From setting up a second hand stall in Camden market in the 1980s, to becoming the creator and founder of Red or Dead, the British fashion brand, his stories taught us that there is no height that a bit of thrift and elbow grease can’t take you.

Another particularly moving seminar was given by Dermot McGilloway, of Irish born charity Society of St Vincent de Paul. Attendees of the conference were shocked to hear of the tragic poverty that still persists in Ireland today, but at the same time found warmth in Dermot’s clear drive away from the isolation that poverty entrenches and towards community-based giving. Tackling both material and emotional poverty, the charity aims to spread the word on love and community throughout Ireland, and increasingly internationally.

One prominent theme, first touched upon by Hattie Lamb of Coal Drop Yard’s Shelter shop, seemed to permeate many discussions throughout the day: the carbon footprint of high street fashion is wearing on the environment. Charity shops are not just great because they support their respective causes. What goes on behind the scenes of the fashion industry is the emittance of a huge amount of C02. It was revealed by Oxfam during their Secondhand September campaign earlier this year that

‘fast fashion produces more carbon emissions per minute than driving a car around the world six times’.

Charity retail associates strive to use this message to drive the public towards second hand buying and away from buying new. The mission is an ever-persistent one though, as the damage that high street fashion is having environmentally is still largely a fact that is only known amongst those working within charity retail.

Our CEO Tiia Sammallahti was honoured to be presented in the CRA’s newsletter with a blog post giving tips on how charity retailers can better attract corporate volunteers. Read the blog here.

Tiia Sammallahti at the conference yesterday
Annual General Meetings require goodies as well as info

whatCharity is a proud corporate partner with Charity Retail Association. The conference was a great success because it allowed us to share with even more charity retailers the benefits of locating their shop sites on the whatCharity map. For those charities who didn’t make it to the conference and want to view a short run down of our company ethos, please view our easy to understand video below:

Best wishes,
the whatCharity team