Charity Vouchers graduated from Cambridge Social Ventures in July 2016.
Charity Vouchers sells gift vouchers that are given as a present, like any other gift voucher, except that the recipient donates the value of the voucher to a UK charity of their choice. David Black, founder of Charity Vouchers, came up with the idea when his parents requested that guests at their silver wedding anniversary party donated money to charity, rather than buying gifts.
“Thinking about it later I realised there were several problems with their well-meaning request, especially in those pre-Internet days. People may not know what address to send the cheque to. If they did send a cheque, how would my parents know they had done so? Also, if people decided to just give a cheque on the day of the party it wouldn’t feel very “gifty”. Thinking about these issues, I also foresaw that after a little bit of procrastination, encouraged by the other issues I’ve just mentioned, the whole idea might just get forgotten about altogether and no gift be given at all!” explains David.
He came up with the idea of charity vouchers that packaged a donation in an attractive, easy to use and flexible form. Ultimately, he created a solution that was simplicity itself: Janet gives John a gift voucher to the value she wants. John writes on the voucher the name of any registered charity he wants to support. Initially the vouchers were all sent out by post and returned by the donor, using Freepost, to the Charity Vouchers office, which forwarded the gift value to the recipient charity. Now it is largely done digitally, with customers either forwarding an electronic voucher by email, or printing off a voucher that, with a couple of folds, becomes an attractive greetings card.
This not-for-profit organisation has been trading since 2002, offering the gift of giving in a way that challenges the rise of consumerism. 2016/17 saw the highest number of orders yet and the David believe he has only scratched the surface of potential markets for the vouchers.
Charity Vouchers supports UK charities tackling a spectrum of issues, including: the prevention or relief of poverty; the advancement of education; the advancement of health and the saving of lives. Although the primary aim of Charity Vouchers is generating much-needed funds for charities, in doing so it also reduces waste and challenges consumerism.