Third sector bodies are to get an insight into how their retail operations can help to promote their brand.

The Charity Retail Association (CRA) is tracking three organisations – the British Heart Foundation (BHF), the Shaw Trust and PDSA – to record what their shops do other than generate revenue.

For instance, it will examine what they do to promote their parent charity’s brand and the role they play in raising awareness of the services they provide.

Mike Taylor, retail director at the BHF, is a keen advocate of the idea of charities using their shops as a platform for “getting across what they do” and believes they should do this more than they are at the moment.

“An issue for a lot of them is that their retail divisions are too disconnected from the wider organisation,” he commented.

“Many of them either get their communications right or selling stuff right, but struggle to do both.”

Mr Taylor added that if charity shops get better at brand storytelling, they could help to tackle the under-appreciation of what the third sector does.

A spokesman for the CRA backed up these comments, stating that while many charities are using their shops as a means of conveying their work, some are “using a bit of a scattergun approach”.

Dan Rattigan, senior public policy officer at the CRA, highlighted housing charity Shelter and mental health organisation Mind as two good examples of bodies that use their retail outlets effectively to draw attention to their work.

He added that the CRA will carry out its tracking activity until spring in order to gather information on what is working and what isn’t at charity shops.

This, he said, will enable the organisation to develop a toolkit that its members can make use of later in the year.

Charity Retail Association tracks brand promotion and service delivery in charity shops, Third Sector

Posted by Cheryl Jackson-Leafield