What is it?
The PDSA’s #VetYourClothes campaign was launched on 2 July to get members of the public donating their unwanted clothes, shoes or accessories to the veterinary charity’s shops by making them aware that more than half of people own clothes they never wear. By telling them that a £20 dress could help pay for a month’s diabetes medication for a unwell pet, the charity is hoping people will leave their items either at its shops or at nationwide branches of the pet care retailer The Pet Hut.
The PDSA has experienced a 13 per cent decline in stock donations to its charity shops in recent years. When it commissioned the market research company TNS to carry out a survey of what people were doing with their unwanted items, it found that over half of Brits owned clothes they never wear and a quarter of them were binning their clothes rather than donating them to charity. It knew it needed to raise awareness that people’s unwanted items could be sold or recycled by the charity to help it raise funds.
Where is it being promoted?
A campaign page on PDSA’s website shows how people can give their support, and more than 30 celebrities have backed the campaign on social media: there have been tweets from the actor and comedian Ricky Gervais, the television fashion guru Gok Wan, the footballer Michael Owen, the model Katie Price and the singer Alesha Dixon. Several celebrity tweets included campaign imagery or photos of themselves with pets.
How successful has it been?
During the first six days of the campaign, the hashtag #VetYourClothes received 1,893 mentions on Twitter and content tweeted by the PDSA was retweeted 243 times. Vet Your Clothes content on the PDSA website was viewed more than 4,500 times, and 18 per cent of those who visited the Vet Your Clothes web page went on to view another page on the site. The campaign resulted in an average increase of 10.5 per cent in over-the-counter and collected stock donations compared with the previous six weeks. The extra stock was worth about £49,000. Celebrity support for the campaign has been covered on websites such as Mail Online and BT.com.
What the charity says
Russell Roberts, senior PR officer at the PDSA, says: "The aim of the Vet Your Clothes campaign was to engage with both existing and new supporters and in doing so enlist the help of celebrities and fashion bloggers to help increase stock donations to our 160 charity shops. The great news is that we’ve seen an increase in the number of donations made since the campaign was launched worth tens of thousands of pounds, showing there is still a strong public appetite to support worthwhile causes in this way."
Third Sector verdict
It is a simple idea that has reaped rewards in a remarkably short period of time. The charity did some good advance planning by commissioning a survey and seeking support from celebrities before the campaign launched. At £49,000, the extra income generated to date has been modest, but the resources expended on this campaign are likely to have been modest too, so this seems like a pleasing early result. The charity will be hoping the people who donated items since the campaign began on 2 July will continue to do so over the long term.