Frequently asked questions

What is Charity Shop Exchange?

Charity Shop Exchange offers a subscription service of books & DVDs. People need new things to read and watch and our subscription service facilitates this in an economical way. Subscribers receive a selection of books and DVDs which have been handpicked from local charity shops.

Is this service fully operational now?

Yes we’re open for subscriptions! Some of the charities we have listed on our homepage right now are to demonstrate regionality, we’ll soon update this as we onboard more charity shops across the UK. If you’re a charity shop please enquire here.

Is Charity Shop Exchange available in my region of the UK?

Yes, we deliver UK-wide. If your region isn’t listed on our homepage it's because we don’t yet have a charity who operates within your region. However don’t let that stop you, you can pick any listed charity, from any region, and they will deliver items to any UK address.

Is this a weekly subscription service?

Weekly, bi-weekly or monthly — it’s up to you! We think you can’t have too many books and movies in times like these. And if you do end up with more than you can manage, they can always be donated back to charity shops!

What items should I expect to receive?

When subscribing you select from book and/or DVD genres, and with your preferences in mind we handpick items that we think you might enjoy. For example if you select ‘Adventure movie’ then we might send you Raiders of the Lost Ark. We don’t promise that every pick will be a perfect match but we’re sure we can delight you more often than not. And by delegating us responsibility to find you interesting and entertaining material you can sit back and enjoy the serendipity! If you’re unhappy with a selection we’ve made we’ll happily replace it but please consider gifting it to someone else who may appreciate it or donating it back to a charity shop.

You can start a subscription with just two items per delivery or choose to have as many as eight, and you can change anything about your subscription plan at any time.

How else can I help you understand my preferences?

We’ll introduce further ways for you to express your preferences and make more granular choices. In the meantime feel free to tell us how this might work better for you.

How do my items arrive?

The charity who fulfils your order is responsible for delivery. Whilst many will depend on Royal Mail, each charity is entitled to appoint any other reputable parcel delivery service to fulfil their delivery duties. We’ll let you know if and when you should look out for a carrier which isn’t Royal Mail.

In the future it may become more efficient / profitable for charity shops to do their own local deliveries, if and when they have the capacity to do so; again we’ll tell you if this happens.

I’m a charity shop. What do you need from me?

You already have lots of books and DVDs so we just need you to fulfil the orders we get. We give you access to our orders and we pay you for the ones that you send out. As a subscription service this is repeatable business for you. We just ask you to sign our supplier agreement to get started.

How many charities are needed?

We’d like to have a handful of charities within each county of the UK. For efficiency and coordination we’ll need to limit this to ten charity shop listings per county.

How are items being donated to charity shops right now?

Check ahead, many charity shops have put restrictions in place because they don’t yet have the resources, or storage space, to take an influx of donated items. Please be patient.

What other challenges do charity shops have right now?

As the high street begins to reopen, charity shops face a much tougher path back to normality than most other retail businesses. The heightened public health situation remains, and charity shops rely heavily upon volunteers, many who are in the shielding category themselves or may live with someone who is; so it could be a while before shops reopen at full capacity. Please ask your local charity shop if they need fresh volunteers to help them get back up and running.

What is the goal of this initiative?

We set out to help with the isolation that many people are facing right now. At the same time it keeps the charity shop sector moving, helping to mitigate some of the impact that lockdown has on their businesses.

What inspires this initiative?

We’re helping the great British institution of charity shops get back to business by selling their books and DVDs. Our subscription service helps charities stay close to their existing customers and brings them a stream of entirely new customers. Hopefully this will mitigate some of the impact that lockdown and social distancing has had, and will have, on charities retail operations and their fundraising.

How can I contribute to this initiative?

We suggest three simple ways you can contribute:

  • You can share our profile and highlight the difference that books and DVDs make during isolation.
  • You can tell your local charity shop that you want to help them facilitate this service. For example you could fulfil their orders by packaging up books & DVDs and taking them to the Post Office for Royal Mail delivery. Alternatively you can combine this with other local doorstep delivery services.
  • You can buy Kelvin a coffee here.

Who are you and why did you start this?

We are a new business that came together during the coronavirus lockdown. Our business is committed to creating a material positive impact on society and the environment through our operations. We explain our beginnings here.

Where does my money go??

When you buy items on Charity Shop Exchange you pay a fee directly to us which is included in your subscription cost. The remaining balance goes directly to the charity your items come from.

For each order - be it a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly delivery - Charity Shop Exchange recieves between £1 and £1.40, plus 20% of the remaining order value.

Why do you ask for a favourite charity?

We ask our customers to pick a charity and in doing so they choose the charity shop they’d prefer to supply them with their order items.

However, we can’t promise that every single order will be packaged and shipped by the chosen charity because we’ll encounter times when supply doesn’t meet demand, in which case customers could receive their items from an alternative charity shop.

Our aspirations are for a resilient service that empowers local charity shops to supply local people, please be patient as we build this together.

Will this service continue post-coronavirus?

Of course! Equally there’s no problem if you just want to depend on it for the next few months. It’s easy to cancel at any time.

I love Charity Shop Exchange so much that I need to hear about more ways to support it!

Philanthropic funds could subsidise our operational costs and help the initiative to scale faster, which means we’ll be able to send more money to the charity shop sector. If you’d like to provide this kind of support please send us an email.

Do you still have questions?