UK charity shops generated £75bn of social value last year, finds report

26 Oct 2023 News

By highwaystarz, Adobe

Charity shops in the UK generated £75.3bn of social value in 2022, a new report has found.

The first-ever report on the social return on investment of the UK’s estimated 10,178 charity shops finds that for every pound invested in the charity retail sector between January and December 2022, £7.35 of social value was created.

The Value of Giving Back – The Social Return of Charity Shops report, published yesterday, was commissioned by the Charity Retail Association to understand the social value of charity shops in the UK.

It used the views of stakeholder groups, namely staff, volunteers, customers and donors “to determine what outcomes charity shops create” and involved them “to estimate their quantity, duration, value and causality”. 

Half of the total social value was about giving back

The researchers used a combination of qualitative and quantitative data such as the total number of operational charity shops in the UK and surveys sent to hundreds of stakeholders. 

When asked about their interactions with a charity shop, respondents shared 10 outcomes including “saving money” and customers and donors “feeling that charity shop staff meet me with friendliness and compassion”. 

The researchers sought to quantify how important those qualitative outcomes were to the respondents, and asked them to give a number, with “six” being the most important thing and “zero” the least.

Using the wellbeing valuation method, the researchers were able to translate these outcomes into monetary value and established that the stakeholders represented 47 million people across the UK, who are mostly “customers and donors”.

They found that nearly half of the total value generated by charity shops (£75.3bn) was about giving back, either to others (29%) or to the planet (20%). 

Looking at the sub-total value of outcomes per stakeholder group, the highest total social value was for customers (£45.7bn) while the highest social value per person was created for volunteers (£3,177). 

Minister: ‘Charity shops a major answer to some of the problems we’re facing’

At the report launch in parliament yesterday, civil society minister Stuart Andrew said: “The fact that £363m is contributed to charities through those shops is an enormous amount of money. Where would that money come from, if it wasn’t for those charity shops? 

“I’m covering everything from civil society, gambling, youth, sports, loneliness, volunteering, etc. I see charity shops as a major answer to some of the problems we’re facing, whether it’s tackling loneliness or helping people to go somewhere and volunteer. But also, because of the nature of the shops, they do allow that time for people to just come in and have a chat.”

He added: “So from me and everyone in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, everyone says a big thank you for everything that you do. Those charity shops are incredibly important. I’ll take great interest in reading this report and learning what else we can do in government to help support everything that you’re doing. It really does mean a great deal.”

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