UK Charities innovate online to make up a multi-billion pound hit in revenue

Charity website

UK charities are moving more services online as they try to survive the multi-billion pound hit they have taken during COVID-19 crisis.

Many are starting to reopen their high street shops this week but the scale of the losses through the pandemic means they are also innovating to survive.

The Charity Retail Association has calculated that charity shops lost £285m during the pandemic – the equivalent of £3.4m every day they were closed.

Charities though have also had to scale back fundraising and research from the charity Pro Bono Economics shows the sector is facing a £10.1bn funding gap – just at a time when more families need to rely on them for help.

The British Heart Foundation is now starting a new postal donation service making it easier for people to support the charity.

Items that weigh up to 10kg can be posted by printing off a freepost label that can be emailed out to people who wish to donate items.

The charity’s chain of 750 shops is also starting to reopen from today with new measures to keep staff, volunteers and customers safer.

Louise Ball who is a regional manager for the charity in the north of England and Northern Ireland told Sky News: “We have taken all the right measures to allow us to reopen – we can now do contactless drop offs for donations, we’ve limited people in store, hand sanitisers and everything else you would expect.

“We are so grateful for the public supporting us during this time and we are all going to need the support of the public more than ever.”

Government guidelines say that donated items have to be stored by charities for 72 hours to minimise the small chance that they may be contaminated with COVID-19.

The charity Sense which supports people living with different disabilities is also ready to reopen its shops.

Head of Retail at Sense, Darryl Neville, told Sky News: “We don’t know what customers are going to do. Are they going to come back into shops in the same level and volume?

“So we’re looking at how to expand online operations and give people an opportunity to support the charity by buying online.

“We feel that we could get approximately 25% of our trade online with some smart working and plans that we’re working on.”

He added: “We’ve got three sites at the moment, an eBay shop selling antiques and collectables, Amazon shops and also a Depop (app) shop for fashion…’s very fast moving as it’s designer and vintage clothes.”