Lack of business topples fundraising house of cards

Studio51, the greetings card company that set out to double the total amount donated to charity through UK Christmas card sales each year to £30m, is to wind up its business in the next few weeks.

Founder Alan Hawkes had privately invested in the company, which donates 51 per cent of the sale price of cards to nominated charities. He said he made the decision to wind up the company because it was taking longer than expected to bring in revenue, partly because charities weren’t bringing in sufficient custom.

“My personal aim was to get the company roaring by years two and three and that isn’t going to happen,” he said. “It’s a much slower burn and would take six or seven years to start operating the way I want it to.

“For us to be able to offer 51 per cent would require charities to bring their supporters to us. But because they don’t have the ability to activate support, or they don’t have the supporters at all, we haven’t had a high response to the business.”

Studio51 launched last August and was the first company to receive a green light from HM Revenue & Customs to claim Gift Aid on card sales (Third Sector, 5 December). The company planned to partner with up to 200 charities when it rolled out its Gift Aid scheme. It also wanted to extend its services to birthday cards and other ranges online next year. It worked with 350 charity partners.

“The business will be wound up over the next few weeks,” said Hawkes. “All donations collected during 2007 have already been made in full. I would like to thank everyone who has supported the venture, and I am only sorry we will not be able to help charity fundraisers in the future.”

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