Pioneering Product Giving yesterday, today and tomorrow
Chris, our Business Development Manager, reflects about Product Giving over the past two decades and how it will shape the future
At In Kind Direct, we sit in a unique position. We operate between a group of engaged corporate donor partners and a network of charities doing incredible work across the UK - creating positivity flowing in both directions. During the current coronavirus crisis, the generosity displayed by our donor and charity partners has highlighted how unique this position is – and has reminded us of all the unforgettable partnerships from the past two decades.
Throughout this blog, we are exploring the impact and longevity of some of our donor partnerships, how Covid-19 has strengthened many of these relationships, and how this has given us all the impetus to look forward and plan how we can support communities as the long-term socioeconomic effects of this pandemic begin to surface.
Long Term Robust Partnerships
The Disney Store made its first donation to In Kind Direct in January 1997. To put that in context - I was just 4 years old when children across the UK received Disney toys distributed by In Kind Direct for the first time! Since then, Disney has been a fantastic supporter of our work, in a number of ways. They have been regularly donating incredible products, supporting local charities directly via our regional store matching programme as well as bringing teams of VoluntEARS and bringing the Disney Magic to entertain children at our annual Big Community Picnic.
We are immensely grateful for the impact this incredible partnership has made for thousands of charities in our network and hope it continues for many years to come.
Evolving our Platform
In the early days of In Kind Direct, charities requested the products they needed through a paper catalogue. At the time, this was the fairest and easiest way to ensure that charities could see what we had available. However, this system was time sensitive - a charity receiving their catalogue a day later than everyone else could mean that unfortunately, many products were already reserved. In 1999 we processed 2,441 orders - at the time it was a big achievement and a testament to the relevance of our business model.
One of the real revolutions at In Kind Direct was therefore the move to an online secure e-commerce platform in 2007. Charities could see instantly what products were available while the process of distributing stock was quicker and easier to track.
The In Kind Direct catalogue in 2002
The In Kind Direct's online site in 2007
Preparing for an Uncertain Future for the Third Sector
Last year we dispatched roughly 20,000 orders to our growing network of charities, community groups, foodbanks and schools across the UK. Our operations have taken a further leap in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Since lockdown began in March we have dispatched over 7,000 orders to 1,900 charities, twice the usual level for the same period.
The response from our donor partners over the last 10 weeks has been immense but we are all too aware that their support will be needed even more in the coming months. The Bank of England predicts that the upcoming recession could be the country’s biggest economic slump in over 300 years. In times of widespread economic uncertainty it is those struggling in society without a safety net, that will require the most help. Charities are #NeverMoreNeeded and many will continue working tirelessly with fewer resources than before.
In Kind Direct and our partners in the Product Giving Alliance will continue to mobilise and engage the corporate sector, making giving goods and services as easy as possible. This will ensure that charities working on the front line across the UK can continue their essential work to support the millions of people affected by this virus in the coming months and beyond.
I hope somewhere there is a 4-year-old child, destined for a career in the third sector, who will look back at 2020 as the year many companies embraced product giving.
If you work for a company that can donate essential products, please contact me or the team at In Kind Direct.
We recognise and celebrate the companies that have stepped up during the crisis and increased their support when has been so needed. Your example shows what is possible when we work together. Thank you to Essity, Kimberly Clark, P&G, PZ Cussons, Unilever, and many more for your support.
Now more than ever, your products can change lives.