31/07/2013 19:28 BST | Updated 30/09/2013 06:12 BST

A Virtuous Circle Helping Charities Survive


Since HRH The Prince of Wales asked me to set up In Kind Direct in 1996, there has been tremendous growth in commitment from businesses to release their products for distribution to charities and social enterprises.

Whilst businesses are rightly becoming increasingly responsible in the way in which they minimise and manage waste, surplus stock remains an unavoidable fact for manufacturers and retailers. There are a multitude of reasons why perfectly usable stock might not be suitable for market or becomes surplus to requirement. When the inevitable happens, In Kind Direct is on hand to spring into action. With 17 years experience and an established logistics infrastructure, we are able to provide a single contact point for companies to donate stock for the benefit of a wide range of grassroots charities throughout the UK.

In Kind Direct's work generates huge benefit to the thousands of charities and the millions of people they serve every year. Now 17 years on, over 900 companies have donated £130million pounds worth of goods for more than 6,200 benefiting charities. Our work is a lifeline helping charities survive in this tough economic climate and continue their essential work when communities need their services more than ever before.

It's a simple solution which makes sense for business, charities and environment - truly an example of The Prince's vision of a 'virtuous circle' in action.

A good example is a recent donation from Kimberly-Clark. After ending production of Huggies nappies across most of Europe, the health and hygiene manufacturer took a decision to use residual stock to benefit charities and vulnerable families in need. In Kind Direct has a longstanding relationship with the company and was a natural first port-of-call to help handle this large donation of 18 lorry-loads of nappies. We are now busy distributing more than 6.5million nappies, equivalent to two for every child under four in the UK, to charities in our network. The impact will be huge. We estimate that at least 2,000 charities will ultimately benefit from the donation: family welfare groups, community nurseries, refugee organisations, hospices, disability charities and many others. At a time when many charities and communities are really struggling, gaining access to essential items like nappies can make a real difference beyond just saving money.

Ultimately what it's all about is making things a little easier for those who need support and are struggling for whatever reason. Consider a woman fleeing from home with nothing but the clothes on her back, with children in tow, ending up in a refuge. Give her some soft bath towels, a pack of toiletries, make-up, nappies and toys for her children. It might seem small, but it can make an enormous difference to that woman's sense of dignity, hope and determination to really want to fight to get back on her feet.

I am incredibly proud of the remarkable difference almost one thousand businesses are already making by supporting social enterprise and being responsible with their stock management decisions. In Kind Direct is by no means the only Prince's Charity driving responsible business and enterprise to transform lives and build sustainable communities. The work of the entire Business and Enterprise cluster of The Prince's Charities does this and includes; The Prince's Initiative for Mature Enterprise (Prime), Youth Business International (YBI), Business In The Community (BITC) and Scottish Business in the Community (SBC).

HRH The Prince of Wales speaks about the importance of Responsible Business and Enterprise in a recent video and blog exclusively launched on the Huffington Post. View the Responsible Business and Enterprise video here.