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Charity merchandise

Updated: Nov 23, 2021

It’s that time of year when charities push their merchandise to boost their cause’s financial standing. From Christmas cards to calendars for the upcoming new year, selling branded products can provide extra income for charities.

Christmas is a lucrative time, whether you’re a retailer or a charity—revenue from the festive period can equal the rest of the year’s takings for some companies. People are always on the lookout for unique gifts and buying from a charity ensures the giver and the recipient feel good.

Giving Christmas cards is perhaps a generational thing. I can remember my mum spending hours each December not just writing cards to relatives but penning a personalised round-robin letter that she popped inside each one, which consisted of pages of information, detailing everything our family had done over the previous twelve months. Today, given that we’re continually connected and can send a message to each other at the drop of a hat, card-giving doesn’t seem necessary. And when you see what your friend/family member is up to on a regular basis from the pictures they post on Facebook or Instagram, you don’t really need a round robin.

Think of the planet

The climate crisis is certainly an initiative to adopt if you plan to create merchandise to sell on

behalf of your charity. The planet has enough plastic tat, so branding something like a tote bag, which can be used again and again, is a winner. A great charity gift doesn’t always have to be tangible; for instance, giving a disadvantaged child an education in the name of a loved one is a heart-warming, thoughtful, worthy gift. As would planting a tree for your nearest and dearest in the National Forest; knowing that you/they have positively impacted the planet in some way brings a good feeling. Some people would love a pet but it may be impractical for them to care for one, because of their working patterns or their living arrangements. Adopting a pet may be the nearest they will get to having their own dog, cat or tiger.

Members only

The gift of membership can continue to provide pleasure all year round. Whilst a nice perfume may be worn or a posh spa set used in the bathroom, they’re incomparable to a year’s worth of wonderful memories. Purchasing a year’s pass to such as the National Trust or English Heritage and gifting it to a loved one could give them some great days out that they’ll never forget. You know your loved ones best, though, and whether they would prefer something tangible that can be wrapped and used.

Align your product

Think of whether there’s a product that has a natural affinity with your cause. For example, a charity working to provide clean water in third world countries opted to brand a reusable water bottle. Not only was this an environmentally conscious, useful and attractive product for them to sell, the water bottle is also synonymous with the work they carry out across the globe and it helped the charity raise awareness.

Love Your Melon is a charity in America that raises funds to provide hats for young cancer-sufferers with hair loss. It was therefore a given that they would brand beanie hats for the public to buy, with all profits going back into the charity.

OneGrid is an organisation that provides solar light to people living in rural areas without electricity. They sold candles during a campaign; these made a lovely gift in their own right, but they also demonstrated the issue the OneGrid charity works to combat.

Think of something different

Charities often get discounts from suppliers, so don’t be afraid to negotiate prices. If you can’t think of any one product that aligns with the work you do, just concentrate on branding something you know people would love to receive as a gift. There are plenty of blogs featuring gift ideas on the internet or browse through such as Etsy and Not On The High Street to see the kind of things you could offer that aren’t in every supermarket or gift shop from here to the moon and back. There are so many places online selling gifts that you need to find something that will make you stand out, otherwise you risk spending your budget on a boxful of gifts you’re stuck with well past the New Year.

For example: these gorgeous hanging hearts are handmade in India, with 25% of the cost donated to the Fairtrade Foundation. A nice art print can make both a visual statement and a heartfelt one; this one distributes profits to women’s charities, via ‘Reclaim These Streets’—a cause that’s very topical at the moment. This oil burner gift set is available directly from the Cancer Research website. It’s beautiful and practical and helps out a well-known cause at the same time—you see these types of gifts in most gift shops, so why not purchase this and feel good that you’re helping others at the same time?

The pandemic has made people think more about our planet and our population, and gifts such as these can be beautiful and/or practical whilst also supporting a charitable cause. Why not do the same for your charity?


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