Today, over 20 of the UK’s biggest manufacturers and retailers, including Amazon, L’Oréal, The Disney Store, Procter & Gamble, Pentland Brands and Colgate Palmolive have joined charity, In Kind Direct, to call on companies to donate their new surplus products to help people in need.
I started In Kind Direct 20 years ago and during that time I have witnessed, first-hand, the growing need that charities have for essential products for their operations and to give to beneficiaries. Hundreds of thousands of UK households are reliant on charities for products such as clothes, toiletries, shelter and food and there is a continuing pressure on charities to provide the full range of services and products for the people they serve. Earlier this year, In Kind Direct’s research revealed that families across the UK are reporting ‘hygiene poverty’ on a vast scale - unable to afford an array of essential personal care products. With little money to cover the cost of everyday essentials, families are being forced to choose between buying food or buying personal hygiene items, such as toothpaste, nappies, washing powder, razors, deodorant and shampoo, the report found. It is clear that our founder, HRH The Prince of Wales’s, original vision for In Kind Direct and the concept of product giving for social good has never been more relevant than it is today.
The world has entered a period of unprecedented change which will profoundly transform the way we live and work. Companies are increasingly expected to operate responsibly, in a way that considers and respects the environment and communities. And as consumers, we all expect the brands we buy to play their part in supporting society. There’s clearly a huge opportunity to put these products to use for the good of society by donating them – helping to alleviate hygiene poverty and minimise waste
Today In Kind Direct launches a PwC research report we commissioned, looking at the untapped potential for product giving in the UK. The report brings to light the fact that £2 billion of unwanted, surplus consumer goods are produced in the UK each year – and that’s just in six product categories; baby care, personal care, clothing and shoes, homeware and kitchenware, laundry and household. These research findings are further supported by a new independent poll of 100 CEOs of FMCG companies which demonstrates that 97% of CEOs have products which are surplus (an average of 3.37% of their annual stock), but fewer than half (46%) say their company donated to a specific charity, and only 23% to an intermediary charity like In Kind Direct. This, coupled with the fact that 75% of the CEOs polled agreed their company has a responsibility to make planned donations or donate surplus stock to charity, shows both the scale of the opportunity and the challenge we face asking companies to take this simple step.
In response to the research findings, and in order to meet the growing needs of charities, In Kind Direct has written a manifesto – Join the Product Giving Revolution. It sets out our commitments to encourage more manufacturers and retailers to donate their products and asks companies to incorporate the practice of product giving into their existing corporate strategies to have a powerful, positive impact on charities.
When living in poverty and faced with a stark choice between putting food on the table or buying every day personal care products, it’s not hard to see why so many people in the UK live without access to essentials such as shampoo, sanitary products, razors, deodorant or washing powder. We hear this story from the charities in our network, time and time again. Long before families take the difficult step to visit a food bank, they have already stopped buying every day, essentials. These are the things that many of us take for granted. Without access to these products we have seen the loss of confidence, self-esteem and growing isolation that takes hold, which ultimately can result in reduced life chances.
This is a challenge that is not going away. Product giving will continue to be an important source of support both for charities working tirelessly on a daily basis with stretched resources and the people they support.
We know how important our service is to thousands of charities. Our call to manufacturers and retailers today is an important part of the solution for millions of people in need.
To learn more about how you can support or join the product giving revolution, read our short manifesto today.