Making the Most of the Holiday Season

The holiday season is a time for giving. Clever marketing campaigns that rely on sentiment and nostalgia instil a sense of communal generosity. More attention is brought to people in need and we often find ourselves with a yearning to help.

Because of this, Christmas is an excellent time for charities to encourage feelings of goodwill and capitalise on the festive spirit. There are numerous things charities already do to boost donations around the holidays such as selling Christmas cards, encouraging re-gifting and running Christmas themed marketing campaigns.

But in what ways can charities be more innovative and keep customers, volunteers and donors engaged over the busy holiday period?

Here are just a few ideas:

Offer a wrapping service

We see various retailers offer wrapping services for an extra charge, yet very few charity shops choose to do it themselves. Charity shops have a plethora of great gifts from vintage clothes, to antiques, to vinyl records; any one of which could make fantastic presents for friends and family. Simply asking customers if they would like their items gift wrapped would be a fantastic way to make a bit of extra money.

Contact local businesses

Many businesses already partake in charity events, and Christmas can be an excellent opportunity to reconnect with local supporters. Reaching out to local businesses in the area reminds them of your charity’s presence and all the great work you do for the community. Focusing your communication on a specific Christmas appeal can really boost revenue, especially when coupled with an offer of a specific thanks to the company as part of a charity newsletter, display in a local shop, or even a short article in a local newspaper.

Intermittent volunteers

Let people know that volunteering just for a day, even for a couple of hours, is still very beneficial for your store. While they have time off over the Christmas period, people may be more inclined to lend a helping hand where they can. Assigning tasks such as picking up donations, wrapping presents or organising stock are all time consuming but essential tasks that require little training to be completed – perfect for someone who can only volunteer for a day or two!

Christmas sales

Every retailer has a Christmas sale and it’s one of the best ways to attract people into store. Having discounts before and after Christmas will increase footfall as well as enable you to clear out old stock in time for the New Year. This can easily be done by marking items with a specific sticker to indicate which items are on sale so there’s no need to spend time repricing goods.

Additional pick-up services

Services that pick-up donations from donors’ houses have been proven to increase the number of overall donations and improve Gift Aid contributions. Christmas is a busy time of the year for all so people will have less time to take unwanted items into store. However, they are more likely to have unwanted items to donate with many having a Christmas clear-out to make way for their new belongings. Putting on extra services where needed, for example at weekends when UK taxpayers are most likely to be home, is going to be more convenient for donors and encourage further giving.

As the Christmas season unfolds festive spirit is only going to increase. Thinking outside the box will contribute to building brand loyalty and maximising engagement, and keeping ideas fresh will help to increase donations and potential volunteers. Not all of these ideas will work for everyone, but picking one or two to focus on will help make sure that you and your charity really do make the most of Christmas.

The Importance of Communication in Charity Retail

The Importance of Communication in Charity Retail

Communication has long been regarded as the key to success for many organisations. Effective communication with staff and with customers is of huge importance to ensure people feel engaged and involved. With charities, the importance of communication is even greater; unless the core message is clearly communicated the support that charities depend upon will soon disappear.

For many charities the focus is on external communication – to donors and other supporters. But internal communication, to and from staff and volunteers, is just as important. People need to feel valued, listened to, and involved if their enthusiasm is to be sustained. For smaller organisations, this is simpler; people have the opportunity to speak face-to-face and most staff and volunteers will have a direct line of communication to a senior member of the organisation. But as a charity grows, these clear communication lines can become distorted or lost altogether.

 This is a people problem, but there are ways that we can use introduce technology to support and improve lines of communication as a charity grows. Choosing the right technology is important – deliver a solution which relies on everyone being a regular smartphone user and you are destined to failure. Even assuming that people have an email address which is checked regularly could be one supposition too far. What if there were a device which all your volunteers were comfortable using and with which they interact multiple times a day? What if you could start using your POS to communicate directly with your volunteers? The prime benefit is that you’re not asking volunteers to seek out new information – you have the means to seamlessly integrate it into their day-to-day routine.

Let’s take a look at the main channels of communication and how they can be enhanced through technology

Central communications

Communication from head office to the “ground troops” working in their shops is essential, but varies greatly in effectiveness. The most common group communication we see is the internal newsletter. Unfortunately producing an engaging, professional-looking newsletter is a cost that most charities will be unwilling or unable to bear, and we are told that such efforts often go largely unread.

By using the POS as a portal to communicate with volunteers, charities can quickly and simply deliver high-quality messaging through a piece of equipment that most volunteers already use every day. A newsletter which is easily accessible from the POS can reinforce the charity’s core messages, carry information on current campaigns, and keep staff updated on changes within the organisation. We can even start thinking outside of the box by including rich interactive content such as animations or even videos.

It’s important to realise that this now does not have to be a one-way street; volunteers can use the POS to communicate feedback and queries to head office. Positive feedback and success stories can be picked out and recommunicated to all shops in an area, becoming a conveyor belt of good news that reinforces the message that volunteers are highly valued by the organisation. 

Between Shops

Communication between stores can be difficult to achieve. Setting up regional meetings is challenging and it is not unusual for volunteers to have little or no contact with each other outside of their specific shop. Even where regional meetings are successful, the interactions are often fleeting – it can be hard to capture the value which has come out of conversations.

facility on the POS which enables and encourages communication between shops allows volunteers to build an important sense of community and belonging. Postings or forums can allow volunteers to discuss ideas or share best practice, letting all shops benefit and helping volunteers to tackle and overcome problems. Automated bulletins can give shops the ability to share specific customer requests or ask for items which sell particularly well in their stores, boosting sales and customer satisfaction. 

In store

How many of your stores have a fine collection of hastily scribbled notes? From reminders to phone numbers to “Dave said he’d pop in on Tuesday” – it’s not the most reliable way for shifts to communicate with one another. Memory and habit can keep a store running well for a while, but it’s a fragile situation – illness and staff turnover can quickly leave you stranded and unable to trade effectively. 

A structured virtual noticeboard on the till gives your shifts a handy place to leave “to-dos” and informational notes, and has the added advantage that they are searchable and won’t pick up coffee stains. Going one step further, the ability to set up check lists for in store processes such as the end of day means that there’s an easy reference to ensure things don’t get overlooked. It also provides a great opportunity for less confident staff to step up to positions of more responsibility – the ability to quickly run down a checklist of the tasks needed to close up the store gives them confidence that they’re doing the right thing. From the point of view of head office, the knowledge that there’s consistency in operations gives a confidence that all shops are running to maximum efficiency.


Nobody disputes the importance of communication between all branches of an organisation. Historically thishas been difficult to effectively deliver, hampered by the dual prongs of inconsistent takeup of technology on one hand, and the cost and effort needed on the other. Using the POS system – a familiar, regularly-used feature of the store – to enable frictionless communication at all levels effectively addresses both of these concerns, and can begin to truly unlock the skills and knowledge present at all levels of your charity.