FUNDRAISING NEWS: Sense International in retail trial

Francois Le Goff

Sense International, the overseas aid charity based in the UK, opened its first shop last week in an effort to diversify its income generation and become a stronger international organisation.

Sense International, which helps deafblind people in developing countries, has chosen Chadwell in Essex to set up the retail operation. "The shop is in the perfect location," said Richard Hawkes, director of Sense International.

"It is near a post office in a busy high street with not a single charity shop around."

To adhere to trading regulations, the charity teamed up with its sister organisation Sense UK, which has a subsidiary trading company.

The shop is a way for the charity to reduce its dependency on more traditional sources of funding, which include statutory income and grants from trusts and foundations. A large part of its revenue also comes from the overseas challenges it runs every year.

"We estimate that we sold £3,000 of goods during the first week," said Amanda Wilkinson, head of fundraising and communications at Sense International.

"We expect to break even in March and to make a £30,000 net profit by the end of the next financial year." She added that the charity will watch the shop's performance carefully over the coming months before planning further openings.

Sense International was created in 1994 to enable Sense UK to respond appropriately to international requests for support. It has been registered as an independent charity since April 1999.

Sense UK this month submitted a document asking for deafblindness to be recognised as a disability in Europe. Acting in partnership with a group of European deafblind charities, Sense has so far received support from 87 MEPs. The document needs the backing of at least half of the 314-strong European Parliament to succeed.

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