Throughout the Charity sector discussions on the expected levels of donations being offered following the lockdown period has been a concern for many. The population have been asked to stay at home and during this time will have been tidying their houses and collating large quantities of unwanted items which they expect to donate to your charity once your shops open.
Issues around this will be, all donations must be isolated for a minimal 72hrs, levels of donations will be far greater than normal, and the numbers of people allowed in your shops will have to be managed due to social distancing.
Safety of staff and donors during this time will impact on the shop’s income along with missed opportunities to maximise on possible Gift Aid donors.
To capture the large volumes of donations, we have helped charities across the UK setup Donation Points. These are dedicated shops and donation centres to allowing local people to donate their items safely and easily.
The shop floors were first identified based on their size, the kind of donations they normally receive and the ease of dropping off donations. The shop floor displays were then removed to an empty shop leaving just the perimeter wall displays in place. These were all covered with plastic sheeting from floor to ceiling to protect the stock from any contamination. The floors were marked out into four sections so donations could be placed in specific areas based on the day they arrived. A box and two-meter markers were made at the front door to keep social distancing.
All staff and volunteers were trained in the correct use of PPE using gloves, aprons and full-face plastic masks. Use of cleaning equipment for all hard surfaces and personal cleaning such as hand gels and wipes. The staff found this extremely helpful and reassured that their welfare was being addressed.
The donation points were advertised on Facebook and clarity on the type of donations people could donate. Some have utilised an advanced booking system, with a phone number to a booking line enabled donor to call and leave a message to which the retail co-ordinator returned all calls (over 100 on the first day in one charity and this is normal) to give a location and time slot to drop off donations. Some have just advertised and allowed donors to turn up.
Posters for each donation point have been put in the shop window to say we are accepting donations today.
When using a pre booking system, the co-ordinator calling the donors talked through the Gift Aid system along with the donors allotted time and location. Each of the shops has a tablet and paper backup system to sign up new donors. This has worked extremely well as most of the donations we received in the first week were either existing or new signups for the Gift Aid system. The staff asked every donor and very few people did not sign up. This is proving to be a highly successful way of maximising Gift Aid signups.
All staff and volunteers are wearing full PPE and wait by the front door to the shop. As donors’ approach, they are asked to stay in the box marked out on the floor to avoid close contact and all donations are placed into a new refuse sack which is colour co-ordinated for the day. The bags are then sealed, and the Gift Aid sticker attached to the outer bag.
By double bagging, the donations we can safely move them to another location if required and is safer for the staff taking the donation through the door. All the donations are then left for 72hrs before any sorting can take place.
The response has been amazing, and people have been following our guidelines on distancing and turning up at their allotted times when pre booking. The response has been extremely positive with people thanking us for opening the donation drop off points.
The staff have all found the experience incredibly positive even though they were nervous the first day. They have all followed the guidelines of social distancing and stayed positive throughout.
To give a clear picture of the quantity of donations, within one local charity in a few days it took over 650 bags.