I had the meeting with Alan (Chairman) Paul (Financial Director) and Cara (Ops Manager) on Wednesday to go over our list of ideas and try to assign a priority to each items. The list I circulated to them is attached. Items in grey were considered as ones we should reconsider later/lower priority right now.
We concluded the meeting with the following ‘outlook’ which I am just about to echo to them for final conformation but I don’t expect to change much
- Some research into awareness of CRU among potential shoppers as well as potential donors would be very useful to help understand how aware people are, if it’s a problem and how much/what quality awareness work we need to do (although awareness is almost always good there may be some aspects we ought to concentrate on). Questionnaires, surveys for quantitive view, but also case studies for quality.
- A number of ideas will require ‘collateral’ – posters (very useful) leaflets, brochures, web pages etc. so we need to be able to produce
- Online sales and promotion of our goods (and associated social awareness messages) a high priority – if its possible – because we are only reaching 12% of known target audience for our service and by far the most of these live at least one bus ride probably two away from Cambridge reuse so can’t come to us on spec (busfare £4.10). (Remember the difference between us and a ‘normal’ online shop is that each product is unique – we don’t have 6 of sofa x in stock so there is a good chance you might see something online and its gone by the time you come into the store which you’d have to do because there is no quick and easy system for providing credentials re low income online. We agreed this was a lesser evil compared to the wide awareness and convenience having the stock online.)
- Fundraising from businesses/corporates a high priority because potential high yield and relatively uncomplicated effort: both ‘aligned’ co’s and others.
- Raising awareness activities a high priority – some evidence to suggest potential shoppers don’t know us – but with so many ideas on this and no sure data to say which activities would work better than other (schools, fairs, eco/green circles, auctions, lotteries etc. etc.) we thought it best for the group of volunteers to decide which to do in which order based on preference and skillset. That’s you/us, right!
- Fundraising from charitable trusts/statutory bodies a high priority.
- ‘Habitization’ of some (dark wood) items: as it happens one of the current volunteers is about to start work on this. We agreed it would make sense to update our standard photos to include such stock. Let’s review progress on this next year.
- Sell advertising space on our van – yes if we can.
- Conference re Dealing with Tough Times (financial difficulties, depression, mental health)– a good idea plus good to keep something in our agenda that focuses on this side of what we do.
- Ideas around reuse of the building (classes, meetings). The issue is that asking a landlords permission to use the premises will almost certainly get a ‘no’ (no incentive for landlord unless we offer to pay more rent). Going ahead without it probably OK but a risk. Therefore we thought that apart for occasional or one-offs this was better left for now, revisit next year.
- Dual pricing: I represented the case put very well by Lucy and Maria. The emotional/philosophical angles were fully explored (some have strong feelings that we are the ONLY charity really looking out for people on low income and it’s the core of CRU) and one major point arising from experience was that we could end up in a situation where increased sales led to a poor choice being left for those on low income (those with cars on good income more mobile, easier to visit, avail). We concluded that it would be easier to experiment with this once we have established an good online sales presence. This would make it easier to implement (when compared with preparing and circulating printed materials ) and easier to turn on and off, experiment with use for selected items etc. etc. Also we would need some research into what the non-low income pricing should be to be competitive with the other charity shops.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?