Regulation with Rosie: Charity shop stock

The Charity Commission's Rosie Chapman on getting stock in charity shops.

It's ironic that at a time when more people are turning to charity shops, the stock in them might be dwindling as we increasingly adopt a 'make-do-and-mend' mentality.

The time might be right for charity shops to go on the offensive, raising their profiles by explaining their need and the range of goods they can accept. After all, the boom years ground to a halt only last autumn. People might be holding on to stuff for longer, but many of them will have accumulated goods they will want to dispose of eventually, and a little prompt never hurts.

People might think of charity as a national concept, but they encounter charity shops at a local level. Local newspapers are invariably keener on 'good news' stories than nationals and are more likely to run charity-focused stories - even more so if a local MP can be persuaded to take advantage of a photo opportunity.

Asking your local council if you can advertise at the entrance of municipal recycling facilities and tips could get visitors thinking more carefully about what they can donate, rather than throw out.

Get your message across wherever people are: in libraries and in community and leisure centres, for example. Supermarkets often host local notice boards at checkout points - people might be buying less food, but they still need to eat.

We know many households are still falling for the 'help needy kids in Eastern Europe' flyers posted through their doors. The fact that the flyers keep coming shows the supply of donations isn't drying up. Redoubling efforts to raise the profile of charity shops just might help redirect the flow of these goods to your shop door.

- Rosie Chapman is executive director of policy and effectiveness at the commission.

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