Salvation Army opens five donation centres this Christmas

published on 2 Dec 2022

A charity business concept that started life as a place for communities to donate and repurpose second-hand items has become a charity retail success story.

The first Salvation Army donation centre opened in West Bromwich in 2016 and in the few months before Christmas, the charity has opened four more in Newbury, Burnley, Sunderland and Lichfield with another one due to open in Dumfries on 15th December.

The stores are designed as an open-format donation drop-off point which engage shoppers and donors with the donation process as they can see ‘behind the scenes’. The large stores also have convenient parking and have proved popular in the towns and cities across the UK.

They are a place to donate, shop, volunteer and get involved with the community. Sales at Salvation Army donation centres performed 35% higher than normal, pre-pandemic levels, and since opening its first store they have served over 1.5 million customers.

Two other Salvation Army staff members hold a ribbon whilst Sunderland's Divisional Commander cuts it to mark the opening of a new donation centre
Major David Burns, The Salvation Army's North East Divisional Commander cuts a ribbon to mark the opening of a new donation centre in Sunderland.

While sales success shows that the concept is valued by customers, it’s the community aspects that are more important. Tony Hosking, Operations Director at Salvation Army Trading Company Ltd (SATCoL) which operates the centres on behalf of the charity said:

“Our donation centres are all about community and affordability. Each donation centre has a similar look and feel, all offer a large shopping area with furniture, homeware, fashion and electricals, as well as 24-7 clothing banks at each site. We reuse and repurpose locally, including larger items and white goods that smaller high street stores are not able to accommodate. But it’s the focus on the community that makes each donation centre special to the people it serves.”

Three people in Salvation Army uniforms stand next to a 'Be a Star' campaign poster holding soft toys.
One way in which The Salvation Army is seeking to serve local communities this Christmas is through the Be a Star campaign.

Leanne Cavanagh has worked for SATCoL as a charity shop manager for 20 years and now takes on the role of Sunderland donation centre which was the 30th Salvation Army donation centre to open. Leanne said:

“I’ve always worked in high street shops, and with the donation centre I’ve now got a bigger opportunity to give more to the community and volunteers. I’m not just creating a charity store, I want to build a community hub. Working with the local Salvation Army, customers and volunteers, we are already looking at lots of ideas such as knitting corners and coffee mornings.”

In 2022 SATCoL has opened nine donation centres in total, with plans to open a further 10 in the next six months. The donation centres complement the existing Salvation Army high street shops. SATCoL operates 240 shops and donation centres has been shortlisted for the Charity Retail Association’s Outstanding Charity Retailer of the Year for a second year in a row.

Find out more: Home | Salvation Army Donation Centre