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Finding Footfall: Embracing charity at retail

Our regular column shining a light on retail trends takes a look at how the economic landscape is creating both challenges and opportunities for charities.

As we find ourselves in a cost-of-living crisis (fast becoming the most-used phrase of 2023), this means less disposable income for most of us. This is not only impacting retailers at the till but also, on a positive note, instigating more creativity and resolve at times when the UK purse is being squeezed. The economic landscape not only presents a challenge for charities, but also opportunity to partner with licensees on product development that captures the imagination of retailers and their shoppers with every purchase directly contributing to its great work.

According to the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF)’s latest UK Giving Report, the cost-of-living crisis has prompted one in eight to say they will cut back on their donations directly to charities. Therefore, the licensing arm of a charitable organisation is even more vital as an alternative source of funding at times like these. Not only do licensed ranges contribute financially, but they also introduce or reintroduce us to much-loved charities that we admire and inspire us from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home to the V&A Museum.

Charities vary from having long-standing knowledge and expertise in licensing to those who hadn’t considered licensing as an additional vehicle to raise much-needed funds. Charities can have catalogues of previously untapped archives that not only inspires them but also shoppers. Such as the beautifully licensed homeware range from the Natural History Museum at Dunelm; inspired by ecosystems from across the world. Alternatively with the right expertise, style guides can be crafted that bring the charity’s purpose and DNA to life in product form.


When out on the road, our team love to see our work on the shop floor with the Battersea Dogs & Cat Homes card range from Cardology. The range includes beautifully designed 3D and 2D greeting cards covering ready to write, multipacks and self-assembly pop-ups available in the likes of John Lewis.

The charity is one of the top 10 in the UK and its broad appeal has seen the celebratory range look to expand further into 2024; resulting in further funds to support the charity’s mission of over 160 years.

Collaborations also see brands actively opting to donate profits to charities that align with their brand, with the likes of Aardman’s Wallace & Gromit product range under the umbrella of ‘The Grand Appeal’ seeing all profits from sales going to Bristol Children’s Hospital. A local studio so closely associated with Bristol supporting its local charity.


While getting our feet on the ground, the team have been inspired by categories from condiments to clothing manufacturers contributing to charitable causes. With Butch Cassidy himself, Paul Newman’s other claim to fame being his salad dressing and condiments business being built on charity, with the original ambition just to make enough to donate to his neighbours at Christmas. Today, 100% of the after-tax profits of Newman’s Own goes to thousands of charities worldwide having received funding from the Newman’s Own Foundation with over $580 million given globally to date.

And in fashion we’ve seen the likes of Bowelbabe’s clothing range launching a second collection this summer with nearly £2 million raised for the charities linked with Deborah James’ Bowel Cancer Research Fund. Another example is Girl Vs Cancer swimwear range at Pretty Little Thing, which has created a post-surgery friendly swimwear collection that is both comfortable while making sure the wearer looks and feels good. All proceeds from the sales of this range go to Girl Vs Cancer.

FF3Walking down Oxford Street this month, it was hard to miss the M&S Back to School campaign leading with the Shwopping initiative – whereby customers are encouraged to donate their unwanted clothes to give them a new life, be sold overseas or recycled with all proceeds from whichever route going to Oxfam.

Oxfam has also recently partnered with the Central Co-Op whereby trial stores started stocking the ‘Sourced by Oxfam’ range of gifts from scrunchies to seed packs and travel cups to tote bags. The range is described as ‘bringing together the best of ethical, sustainable and brand-new items that the team has carefully sourced for you from around the world’. Through this partnership, not only is Oxfam directly and ethically supporting crafts people from across the world, but their craftsmanship is being shared with more shoppers thanks to the footprint of Central Co-Op stores.

The new partnership aims to switch more shoppers onto ethical shopping and raise awareness of the new products on sale in Oxfam shops. Starting with 10 stores, the trial extended to 55 supermarkets adding its Pride range ahead of Pride Month in June; championing diversity and inclusion which is at the core of the Central Co-Op’s cultural mission.

It’s great to see in times of austerity that licensors, suppliers, retailers and, most importantly, shoppers are engaging with brands and charities that resonate with them and I will close with a quote from Mr Newman himself, “A man can only be judged by his actions and not by his good intentions or his beliefs. What could be better than to hold your hand out to people less fortunate than you are?”

Hannah Redler is co-founder of Spotlight.1888, created in November 2021 to help brands and licensees with retail services, and retailers with licensing strategy.

Based on an extension of The Point.1888’s retail-first model, whereby new products are created based on the gaps seen at retail as well as what it thinks the brand’s target demographic might like, Spotlight.1888 works directly with retailers and brands to help them fill the gaps themselves using the agency’s retail team expertise.

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