FUNDRAISING NEWS: Mixed results on teleshop debut

Dominic Wood

Help the Aged has raised £1,300 from its first three weeks' broadcasting on the UK's first charity teleshopping programme.

But Send a Cow, the only other charity to have collated results from its participation on The Community Channel's Charity Store, has sold nothing.

Charity Store began screening from the end of October, with half-hour pilot shows that sell products from three established charity catalogues.

"We are thrilled with the quality of the programme and our fundraising success," said Michelle de Souza, head of home shopping at Help the Aged. "It is a promising start, upon which we hope to see significant growth as the programme continues over the next 11 months."

But Send A Cow, which provides livestock and other forms of aid to African families, says it is surprised and disappointed that after one week of programming, none of its 'virtual' products have sold.

The not-for-profit digital TV channel created sets appropriate to each catalogue, in an effort to boost sales. Help the Aged's products were shown in a mock-up house, while Send A Cow used its own footage of Africa and pictures of a local farm shot by the TV channel.

Pat Simmons, head of communications at Send A Cow, attributed the lack of sales to the intangibility of the charity's products. But she added: "Given that the concept sells well in our catalogue, we're puzzled and disappointed. But we are still hopeful of doing well and we have an open-ended agreement with the channel."

The Aspire Group, which employs homeless people to sell fair-trade products door-to-door, became the third charity involved with the pilot stage last week. All three charities have incurred only minor costs.

"We have piloted with three forward-thinking charities," said Jane Mote, channel controller at the Community Channel. "But we will wait until the new year before evaluating how much to charge in future."

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