Charity coalition calls for online retail boost

Charities have linked up with eBay to call on the government to set up a digital innovation fund to help charities improve their online retail operations.

The coalition, which includes Barnardo’s, the Charity Retail Association and think thank New Philanthropy Capital as well as eBayUK, has come together amid a loss of income for charities through closures of their High Street shops during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Barnardo’s retail director David Longmore estimates it lost “a third of our income overnight as we closed shops and cancelled fundraising events”.

He added; “Like many others, we have had to innovate quickly and move services online, and we know that a digital-first approach must remain part of our offer, long after lockdown ends.

“Even as we begin to re-open our shops, online income streams such as eBay will be more important than ever. That’s why we’re calling for a digital innovation fund, alongside eBay and others, to help charities embrace online retail and develop the range of services that vulnerable children and families need now and in the future.”

The call comes as eBay UK launches a package of financial support and training to help charities increase their online sales potential.

It is announcing £1.7m of unrestricted grants to 250 charities, who use the auction website and have been most affected by a fall in online revenue due to COVID-19. It has also announced a training programme called Charity Connect to help charities to raise money through online sales. This involves free weekly webinars and follow up one-to-one sessions with retail experts.

Non-essential shops were allowed to re-open on 15 June but charity retail operations continue to be affected, according to Charity Retail Association chief executive Robin Osterley.

“We were delighted to see the return of bricks and mortar shopping on 15 June,” he said.

“However, for a number of reasons, not all of our shops will be able to open immediately and so there is a real need for a continued focus on e-commerce as a valuable income stream.

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