From a young age, charity has never been far from my mind. So when I was looking for a way to incentivise my customers, a charity shop gift card was exactly what I was looking for. 

The 80s was a decade of iconic charity moments in the UK. From the birth of Children in Need and Comic Relief, to the widespread coverage of the Ethiopian famine and the legendary Live Aid concert, there wasn’t a year I remember when the work that charities do and the urgent need for them wasn’t being broadcast into our living room.  

These TV moments are how I first learned about charities. But it wasn’t until my 20s that I would realise that working in the non-profit sector was my calling.  

I had no idea what I wanted to do when I came out of university, so I turned to admin temping jobs to pay the rent. I turned out to be quite good at it and it wasn’t long before I got my first permanent role in a charity supporting young people with addiction issues in 2005. It was there that I realised I had a passion for communications, and I have worked in charity comms ever since. 

Fast forward to 2024, and I have recently celebrated eight years of Colvine Communications the small business I own that provides comms services to charities and other non-profits. I’m a business of one, and I like it that way. But being so small has made it hard to find a sustainable way of making sure I am giving back to the sector I serve.  

I initially went down the pro bono route, offering a few days of my time free of charge to new and existing clients. But there were only so many days I could offer in any given year. In order to support more organisations, I have recently started to create free resources that provide small non-profits with practical comms support. This means I can spend my time producing something that will help out lots of organisations, rather than gifting those hours to just one.  

I’ve been an avid charity shopper since I purchased a much-loved leather jacket from a charity shop in Edinburgh when I was a student. Over the years, the amount of clothes I buy in charity shops has grown and grown right now I’d estimate about 70% of my ‘new’ clothing purchases come from charity shops.  

There are lots of things I love about charity shopping. As well as knowing that my money will go to a good cause, I love that buying secondhand has a lower environmental impact. So when I recently ran a survey to get feedback from the people who are using my resources and was looking for an incentive for taking part, I was delighted to discover The Charity Shop Gift Card 

I love that I can now incentivise my customers while doing good. Alongside all the benefits that come from shoppers using the card, The Charity Shop Gift Card is also a social enterprise that does other good stuff like funding gift cards for organisations to give to the people they support.  

I cannot think of a better option than The Charity Shop Gift Card for ethically minded small businesses like mine to use as an incentive. I would also love to see big corporations that have more reach and influence champion the card as a customer perk instead of the usual gift cards that can only be used to buy new stuff – the impact on the sector and the people that charities support could be huge.  

When I think back to those moments as a child in my living room, I am grateful for the exposure to the power of collective action. I didn’t really know what it meant back then, but now I know that if we all do something small, we can collectively make a big difference in the world. 

Written by guest contributer, Claire Colvine, a non-profit comms specialist with 19 years of experience in the sector.