Opportunity Shops Call

Charities venture into profitable new income streams

James Austin, CEO FINZ


Over the last few years New Zealand has seen an explosion of charity retail stores. There are now over 700 of them supplying a net income to charities in excess of $100 million. On top of that a large number of charities are selling items over the web which makes the surplus income for charities even larger.

There is a certainty in such income which can be less haphazard than voluntary giving and thus allow for certainty in financial planning. Again it is a wonderful opportunity for more effective use of volunteers in retail situations and a great opportunity for members of the public to recycle their possessions and clothing to a good cause. When you delve deeper into those charity shops you find a lot are not in the second hand or recycled business. They are selling new stock including imported clothing and a lot of food. This charity income stream is a business and is run as a business.

Many charities are now employing experienced retail managers to meet today’s retail requirements. Early charity shops often lacked stock control, had health and safety issues and some had security issues regarding theft. Overseas, industry self-regulation was used to make sure the highest standards were met. But seeing the growing professionalism in charity retail in New Zealand will ensure that such a step is not required here. However, some trading, which is conducted on the streets by operators who are linked, but not owned by charities, may not adopt the same high standards of the majority. We must guard against unethical practices and be vigilant that fundraising standards are maintained.

Read more stories at Fundraising Practices 

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