S5E3 'Donation Match-Making for Charities & Businesses', with Cathy Benwell 🎁


[00:00:00] Chris W: Welcome to the EcoSend podcast. Be inspired, educated, and entertained by the world's most ambitious leaders, putting climate at the top of their agenda.

[00:00:26] James Gill: Hi there, welcome to another episode of the EcoSend podcast. I'm your host, James, and I'm thrilled today to be joined by Kathy. I'm really excited about today's show we're going to be talking about lots of ways Kathy is is helping businesses give to charity and helping charities out. Kathy Benwell is co founder of Social Enterprise A Good Thing, which is a non profit online platform that connects charities right across the UK with businesses that have things for them.

[00:00:57] To give away. This sounds like a very sensible idea. Kathy, I'm thrilled to be chatting with you. How are you doing today? I'm doing well,

[00:01:04] Cathy Benwell: James. Thank you for having me. It's lovely to be here.

[00:01:07] James Gill: Awesome. No, thank you. Thank you for being here. I I'm really excited to dig into this. This sounds like a very, very interesting topic.

[00:01:13] Kind of approach like, bit, like, I guess a whole interesting sort of setup here that sounds like it must be making a big impact and sounds very, very sensible. I'm intrigued by maybe actually in your own words, like, are you able to explain a little bit more about what a good thing is doing?

[00:01:31] Cathy Benwell: Yeah, absolutely. So you summed it up really well. And it's a lovely, simple concept to explain, which makes my job really, really easy. And you know, often I think some of the best ideas are often very simple. So the idea is that it's an, an online only platform. So we ourselves don't do any delivery storage warehousing.

[00:01:51] We're simply connecting up essentially two parties with each other. So a business over here. Anywhere in the UK that has some stuff, some physical things that they don't need anymore with a charitable organization over here that just needs to get hold of some stuff. And it really is that simple. There are some brilliant ways already for individuals to do this.

[00:02:10] I'm sure. You and lots of the audience have used things like Freecycle, Freegal, Facebook marketplace to give away things that we don't need any more that we have at home. But our thinking when we set up a good thing was actually, we didn't feel that there were many great routes for businesses to do this and specifically to give things to to charities.

[00:02:27] And it is, it's very popular. So it turns out that lots of businesses have stuff that they would love to re home and to pass on. And of course that they would rather not. Send to landfill as well.

[00:02:38] James Gill: Yeah, absolutely. That makes so much, so much sense. I, I mean, with us running EcoSend and the, and also GoSquared before that we've, we, I know we've had a whole storage container of stuff after the pandemic that we just kept around for ages and we eventually managed to, I think, give away.

[00:03:01] Pretty much all of it, but it was a quite a difficult job trying to do that. Like, all this free stuff, people that need it, but trying to find the people to give it away to is not an easy thing. thing and yeah, I'm a big fan of FreeCycle as well, by the way. I, I, I don't know if it's a Yes, I love

[00:03:17] Cathy Benwell: FreeCycle.

[00:03:18] James Gill: Yeah, I don't know if it is it a global thing? I'm not sure if, if it's a global thing or a UK thing, but yeah, just a great way to, you know, the I think it's the easiest way to get rid of get rid of something, but some the people that take I mean, from what I've seen, we've given away stuff that we really wanted to get rid of, struggled to get rid of, People come along and treasure it.

[00:03:40] And it's such a joyful thing to see someone getting such a new lease of life out of a product. It's, it's brilliant.

[00:03:48] Cathy Benwell: You know, we've really seen that with a good thing as well. That things that, you know, there's lots of the stuff that you can see immediately will be popular. So yes, we have had lots and lots of laptops donated.

[00:03:58] We've had mobile phones, we've had other types of tech. And of course those things, you know, are going to be popular, but what's been really fascinating is the number of things that we've had, you know, Donated that aren't glamorous. They're not high value. They don't seem like things that are going to fly off, fly off the site.

[00:04:13] And they do. And that's the thing that I think is, is actually super heartening about what we're doing. I mean, just as an example last year we had some, a whole load of paint. So this was paint that had been opened. It had been partly used. It was a painting and decorating company that was donating it.

[00:04:27] You know, goodness knows how long it had been sitting around some of it. It was, it was a random assortment of colors and that paint had multiple charities going for it. And I just thought that was brilliant. And of course, paint, as we know, is notoriously very difficult to recycle. It's very difficult really to do anything with once you've decided you finished with it.

[00:04:46] So I just thought that was so brilliant, you know, something that really did seem like, like waste, you know, like junk, like rubbish went on. So it, it went to this. Community center in West London that was doing loads of work in the community, particularly running afterschool clubs for, for kids to come to and have a safe, warm place to be after school.

[00:05:03] They said they'd repainted the whole center. And that for weeks afterwards, they had people come in and say, it looks really different in here. What have you done? It looks great. Which I just thought was just lovely, such a simple, you know, really easy, straightforward way. That, that something was essentially, you know, say really saved from the bin.

[00:05:19] and had this wonderful sort of local social impact at the same time.

[00:05:24] James Gill: Oh my goodness, that is such a lovely story, isn't it? Just so much, it must feel incredibly good to know that your, your idea, your, your vehicle here is, is creating so many positive things. moments in the world. It's there's a pretty fulfilling thing to, to be responsible for, I think.

[00:05:44] Cathy Benwell: I mean, you know, I definitely am enjoying this job more than any job I've ever done before. It is, it, it is really fantastic and it sounds, I know it sounds cheesy, but it's just a very positive space to be in generally. And you know, as you say, we're, we're help, you know, helping out charities, charities as you'll know, are just in dire, dire straits at the moment.

[00:06:04] Things were really tough for them before the pandemic. Then of course, we had COVID now we've got the cost of living crisis, energy crisis, all kinds of other stuff going on. And of course, at the same time, the demand for their services in many cases has skyrocketed. So you've just got this perfect storm.

[00:06:19] Of really, really challenging situations for so many UK charities. So it also feels great from that point of view that, you know, there's no, no money passes through our platform. So it has to be physical things that get donated, not cash, but still the impact that those things can have. And often charities will say to us, you know, That stuff that we got hold of through the platform, we would have had to spend some of our core funding on that.

[00:06:41] So in a sense, you know, it's not that we've given them money through the platform, but they have, they've saved money. Essentially. We just actually did our stats for 2023 and calculated that in, in terms of charity spend saved a good thing saved. Over 600, 000 pounds worth of charity spent, which is a very cool number, I think, and, you know, helps, I suppose, to visualize that all of those, you know, ladders, laptops, chairs, tins of paint, that's what it all added up to last year.

[00:07:09] And we're already expecting 2024 to at least double that. So yeah, as you say, it's a great job. I definitely wake up every day and feel excited about the day ahead, which is a really nice boost. position and privileged position to be in for sure.

[00:07:24] James Gill: That is incredible. Oh my goodness. What an inspiration already.

[00:07:27] I feel like we're not even 10 minutes into the episode. I already feel incredibly inspired, Cathy. So I, I am, I'm very intrigued. I, I feel like there's so many questions I could ask you, but because I definitely want to hear more about all of the random stuff that's been donated, but I, I must ask you, how, how did you get into working the best job ever?

[00:07:49] What's led to this point?

[00:07:51] Cathy Benwell: Sort of a roundabout route as with, as with many sort of interesting decisions. So this was an idea that my husband and I had. Probably 15 years ago and it kind of sat in the background. We would talk about it, it would pop up, it would go away again. Our life was very full.

[00:08:05] We had three young children. We had set up a software business together. So he's a software developer. So we had a software startup you know, life was full. And then as soon as that first lockdown happened in March, 2020, we sort of thought to ourselves, well, There is now going to be some time, at least in the evenings and possibly a little bit of time at the weekends that we might not have had otherwise.

[00:08:26] Let's just see if we can make this happen. And looking back now, I'm certain that we would never, ever have, have brought it to fruition if it hadn't been for that lockdown. I mean, you know, really at that point, that was, that was Richard, my husband and co founder who essentially took that first three months to write the platform.

[00:08:43] So he has, he's written the app that powers a good thing in his evenings and his weekends during that first lockdown. That summer we then, so at that point I was doing a lot of work with a charity in Slough called HomeStart and had lots of really good sort of charity connections in that part of England.

[00:08:58] So I then started doing lots and lots of research, trying to talk to all of the charity people I knew and just ask them. Does this sound useful? Is this something that you would use? At the same time we so one evening Richard and I, my husband were chatting over dinner and somehow it came up in conversation that there was an entire cupboard full of laptops at the office that were essentially sort of finished with, because as I'm sure you'll know, Software developers generally get through laptops every three years or so.

[00:09:26] They, they have a new laptop. You know, they're working on the most modern high powered devices. And he was telling me this and I was thinking, well, these people that I'm working with, my colleagues in the office in Slough are mainly working on laptops. 10 minutes just to switch on. So you, you know, you lift up the lid and then off you go to make your cup of tea.

[00:09:45] And I was thinking there's definitely something we can do here. So we made that happen. So between the two of us, we got the laptops in the cupboards at our software company to my colleagues. In the office at Homestar in Slough, and it was incredibly easy and had just a massive, massive impact.

[00:10:01] And then I think that's when we thought, right, you know, there's got to be a way for that to be able to be applied more broadly. That only happened that match. If you want to call it a match, that only happened because of him and me having that connection, it should be possible. You know, and, and also we knew that there's a lot of will out there for this to happen.

[00:10:17] You know, we know that businesses want to be, they want to be doing the right thing. They want to be engaged with their communities. They want to be generous and helping, you know, nearby charities, but it's just not that straightforward to do it. And as you, you talked about with your your container You know, it takes time.

[00:10:32] It takes hours. You know, you, you take a photo of something, you email it to 20 charities. Then maybe one of them rings you, leaves a voicemail. You call them back. They want the dimensions. Actually, let's have another photo from a different angle. I mean, it can just take hours, can't it? And weeks. Whereas the, you know, the way this works is it's a little bit like.

[00:10:48] You know, using something like eBay, you take a quick photograph, you write one sentence to describe what you have. You click publish and that's it. You just sit back as the business and wait for those requests to come in. So it's just sort of made it really, really simple, straightforward and crucially fast because people are so busy, everybody is so busy.

[00:11:07] Generally within a business, especially within a small or medium sized business, it's nobody's job to work out what on earth are we going to do with all that stuff. And maybe in a larger corporate now, you've got these sustainability managers, sustainability directors, possibly there, there is a little bit more time to think things through, but.

[00:11:23] Definitely not in small and medium sized companies. Stuff just gets sort of shoved in a cupboard and then worry about it

[00:11:29] James Gill: later. Worry

[00:11:30] Cathy Benwell: about it later. Exactly. Yeah. So that's the, that's the sort of story. We then ran our pilot in the Thames Valley where we both had sort of a good kind of network. And that was really successful.

[00:11:40] So the, the charities and businesses that we did get on board in that first three months. It, it, you know, it just worked. It really worked. It was very, very simple and successful. And as with anything digital at the click of a button, you can, you can make it UK wide. So we then did that. That was sort of later on in, in 2021, sort of summer 2021.

[00:11:58] And then we've just been, been growing since then in terms of bringing charities on board, businesses on board, the number of matches has grown and yeah, the number of different types of things that have been donated as well. That's

[00:12:12] James Gill: That's incredible. I, I, and also it's, it's, I mean, the origin story as well, it's very, very interesting.

[00:12:18] You sort of, I guess, in the world of startups and everything, you sort of had your minimum viable product of knowing there's a cupboard with laptops, knowing there's some desperate need for them. Let's see if this works. And you made it work. And, and before like necessarily writing any Building a site or any code.

[00:12:36] It's, I love how you kind of tested that out and took it from there. It's that's so cool. So I, I'm intrigued as well. Like what was there a drive outside of, you know, outside of seeing that opportunity there, Kathy, was there like did you have a personal like drive to do this yourself? Was, was there anything that influenced you to do this?

[00:12:58] Because I assume. You were in a job before that, or, or, you know, what led to, to even having that as an idea to even talk about, because not everyone has ideas like that. Right.

[00:13:09] Cathy Benwell: Yeah. Good question. I mean, I was, I was in the world of publishing before that. So I, I worked in editorial departments since, since, since.

[00:13:16] You know, since I graduated from university, that's what I'd always done. So definitely this was a real shift. I guess maybe when I when I had my children I started doing quite a lot of volunteering with local charities at that point. Maybe that was when I got a little bit more interested in the charity world.

[00:13:31] I then became really, really passionate about this charity HomeStart that I was working with. Which is the most amazing charity. So essentially they support families with very young children. They send volunteers. Into family's homes to essentially sort of befriend them visit them, spend time with them every week.

[00:13:48] So I did that for many years which I found amazingly rewarding, especially being a mom myself and sort of knowing how tough it can be. I found that a really amazing thing to do. So I suppose that was maybe HomeStart was definitely what led me to feel very passionate about. The charity world.

[00:14:03] And I think from I suppose from Richard's point of view, I think he often talks about having come at it from a slightly different angle, from a sort of a business waste point of view. So in, in setting up our software company squared up from the beginning, he was very, very keen to just make it a really good company.

[00:14:22] A really sort of positive company that was out there. Adding to the world in some way we are actually on the road towards hopefully becoming a B Corp our software company. So that's kind of gives you a little bit of a sense of sort of where his head is and the type of company that he wants to run and sort of be, be heading up.

[00:14:37] So I suppose it was about understanding as well, you know, that world, there is such a lot of wealth in that world, in that software world in the tech space and which he was obviously seeing and he'd He'd been working in a tech company before he set up as well. So he'd seen that and been to these conferences where there's just a massive amount of money that gets kind of splashed around and often lots of waste at the end.

[00:14:58] So I think he had always known that that was something that he wanted to avoid himself, you know, with the way he ran his own company. So that may be fed into it as well. Was the fact that we were both maybe for slightly different reasons or coming from slightly different situations. Spaces wanting to just do something I suppose that helped businesses to, to be better and to be more responsible as well as, you know, boosting charities at the same time.

[00:15:21] James Gill: Yeah. Yeah. I guess both of you had sort of the two sides of the coin to, you know, to see, see both sides and, and the perfect combination to make something like this happen. I, I, and it, it does genuinely seem like one of those where. Things where it is just win, win for everyone. Yeah, it

[00:15:41] Cathy Benwell: really, really is.

[00:15:42] It's just, it is a win, win. You know, and businesses really love it. They, and they love that double, that double win. So they can really see the. You know, the fact that they're saving things from landfill they're producing less waste, that's really important to them. And of course, there's so much pressure on so many of them now, just not to be creating waste.

[00:15:59] But then the fact that there's this really powerful local, super local social impact as well, seems to be really going rapidly up. Businesses, agendas. It's been so interesting over the four years to see how those two things have shifted. So at the beginning, when we first set up, we were quite focused, you know, the messaging was quite focused around the sending less to landfill.

[00:16:19] You'll be saving waste. You'll be supporting the environment and helping to look after the planet. And then it was really interesting to see that what was actually overtaking that message was the social impact message. You know, you're going to be having. A really powerful impact within your local community.

[00:16:34] And it sort of almost happened without us guiding it. And so we then, of course, you know leaned into that and started then talking up that angle a little bit more, but it's been interesting cause it does kind of come and go. And some people you'll talk to will really tune into One of the angles in particular, and then other people will be super focused on the other one and not even, you know, maybe so interested.

[00:16:52] It's, it's really fascinating actually. And even, even within charities and businesses, you know, it's not that charities are interested in one and businesses, there's a real kind of mixture of the, I guess the part of it that people love varies a little bit.

[00:17:05] James Gill: Yeah. Yeah. No, I, I I, I totally, I totally can see that.

[00:17:10] I I, I guess also, I, my understanding is that potentially for businesses, there's even, aside from those two big benefits, there's also, like, the aspect of, perhaps it costs money sometimes to try and get rid of things, like, I, I know for us, like, with our When we're at the storage container place, you see vans turn up that are paid to like, go just empty a storage container.

[00:17:34] Someone's paying to like, go probably tip a load of stuff into the landfill somewhere. And like, you know, it's not only doing a lot of good, but you're also potentially like, making it really easy for a company. To not have to even go to extra money, expense, trouble to get rid of stuff, potentially.

[00:17:56] Cathy Benwell: I mean, there's been a couple of interesting examples where we've chatted to businesses you know, about what they have and, and their plan to list something. And they'll say to me, we've been quoted, you know, two and a half thousand pounds for a commercial skip. Which is just amazing. I not cheap, are they?

[00:18:10] Those commercial From what I've been told, they're not cheap. So yeah, no, absolutely. It's often, it often costs a lot to try to, to get rid of things as a, especially as a business.

[00:18:21] James Gill: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So win, win, win. Okay.

[00:18:28] Cathy Benwell: Exactly.

[00:18:28] James Gill: I, I guess I'm, I'm, I'm intrigued and I have to kind of ask this out of interest aside from anything else, but there is so much good stuff going on there.

[00:18:38] How. Then, does A Good Thing exist? Is it, is it paid for by donations? Is there is it government funded? Like, how does that work in terms of, you know, yourself and anyone spending time on A Good Thing itself? Like, how is, how is that operating?

[00:18:54] Cathy Benwell: Well, you know, first up, we are a volunteer led organization.

[00:18:58] So we are almost all volunteers. And also as with anything digital, you know, the costs, our overheads are super low which is great. And, and that really kind of helps us. But essentially we are we have a subscription model for businesses. We have a couple of corporate sponsors, but.

[00:19:14] Principally, we are funded by business subscriptions. And there's a, there's a sort of a small range of those. So depending on sort of how often the business thinks they will use the sites and, or how many things they might be donating and what size those things might be, there's a sliding scale of subscriptions.

[00:19:31] So we have a freemium version. So anybody who's just making an ad hoc donation or a donation of something Very small or something very low value. That's completely free. So any business can just pop on and give anything away for free if it's a small donation. The next level above that is that we ask businesses to pay 29 pounds and that gives them one month's worth of usage of the platform.

[00:19:52] So in that month they can donate. As many things as often as they want to, for, you know, whatever value they like for the whole of that month, which we think is a pretty good deal. And again, compared with what a commercial skit might cost them. And as you know, we're a nonprofit, so it goes right back into our operations anyway.

[00:20:11] There's a, another level above that. And this is all on our website. If anyone is interested in looking at the pricing it's very transparent. Which is where businesses who want a little bit of, you know, That sort of nice PR. So they want us to do a little bit of you know, writing up what they've done writing up the match, putting it on, on our website, we've got a lovely blog with lots of our sort of good news stories doing some social media around their donation making a lovely sort of certificate that describes the thing that they've done.

[00:20:36] The things that they've donated and the impact that they've had. So lots of businesses are going for that actually. The ones that really say, well, yes, we do want to be able to really promote what we're doing. It is really powerful to have that service available. So that's the, that's the other option.

[00:20:48] So essentially the sort of three routes that businesses can take depending really on how often they think they want to use a good thing and, you know, what they'd like out of it.

[00:20:58] James Gill: It's amazing. Yeah. No, I, I, that totally makes sense. It's very, very transparent, very clear, very, you know, Very cool.

[00:21:05] Cathy Benwell: I'm completely free for charities.

[00:21:06] I should say. So always. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it

[00:21:10] James Gill: totally, I, yeah, it definitely makes sense to charge the businesses rather than the charities for sure. I, from what little I know of charities, they don't they don't have all the money in the world to be spending. And, and, and yeah, actually, I mean, going back to something you said earlier as well, just around the kind of, the amount of waste often in, in bigger businesses, especially like when you see, yeah, it's like to one business, a three year old laptop is a piece of junk, even though.

[00:21:39] Yeah, to, to a charity that might be the best thing they've ever, like the best piece of computing equipment they've ever had. It's such an incredible contrast, isn't it?

[00:21:48] Cathy Benwell: And crucially with the laptop example, could really genuinely transform the way they work, you know, could really change their work day, change what they're able to achieve, you know, as you and I and everybody listening will know, you know, the type of tech that you're working with has a massive impact on just what you can get done, how efficient you can be.

[00:22:07] James Gill: Totally. Absolutely. I. I. I guess it would be great to actually dig in a little bit more to the, on the charity side and hear more about some of the, the ways it's impacted charities. So I think you, you were saying maybe you have some sort of story of. Of, of one charity that really benefited around Easter eggs, perhaps.

[00:22:24] I, I mean, I'm keen to hear about this, Cathy.

[00:22:28] Cathy Benwell: Well, the Easter egg story that, no, that's actually part of our origin story. So so that was when I was working with Homestar in Slough and, We were gifted. I can't remember the number now, but it was many, many hundreds of Easter eggs, which on the face of it seems lovely.

[00:22:46] Doesn't it seems great. How lovely to have, you know, many hundreds of Easter eggs, but actually, you know, and this is what happens with charities is, is, well, the main thing that happens is people. People will give them stuff and they will feel as though they have to take it. And the reason they feel they have to take it is they don't want to seem ungrateful and they crucially want to maintain that relationship with that donor or that company.

[00:23:07] And so they end up taking, and I saw this happen a lot at HomeStart. So they end up taking on things that they really like don't particularly need, aren't going to be that specifically useful to the projects they're running. They definitely don't have space to hold. You know, we were working out of a tiny office.

[00:23:23] Where there was just not space for hundreds of Easter eggs. And we just weren't at that point supporting enough people to need that volume of Easter eggs. So that was another thing, you know, that happened in that year before we set up a good thing where I was just chatting to Richard, my husband at home and telling him this story.

[00:23:39] Something similar had also happened with a toy manufacturer. Having donated just an enormous number of toys, which again, seems great. But actually I think the point I'm trying to make is that charities need stuff, but they need quite specific stuff. And that's what we love about a good thing is we're really trying to.

[00:23:56] Sort of meet that specificity and just really genuinely help charities rather than just dumping stuff on them. The something that's really exciting that we do with a good thing is when a charity joins us, we ask them, what do you actually need? So as well as them receiving email alerts, It's about the stuff that's going to be on offer nearby from local businesses.

[00:24:16] They will also have the opportunity to tell us what they actually need. So they fill in this quick Google form. We then at the moment that isn't done through the app, it would be amazing longer term if then a business received an email alert saying, Hey. A charity near you is in need of you know, whatever it might be.

[00:24:31] Plastic cartons. Can you help? At the moment it doesn't happen through the app that way. But what we do is we write those up. They go on our blog and we do lots of social media around them and often are able then to match those charities with local businesses who see the post and think, Oh, I've got some of those, you know, I could definitely donate those to that charity.

[00:24:47] But that, that's something that we think is really exciting about a good thing is the, its ability to be very specific and giving charities the exact things that they need, rather than just the things that are, you know sitting in someone's cupboard.

[00:25:00] James Gill: Yeah, absolutely. I, yeah, I didn't, I didn't really think about it like that.

[00:25:04] It's, yeah, I guess I didn't really think about how much of an issue that could be for charities, just as they are missing certain vital things then equally getting too many too many chocolate easter eggs is, is, is some people's dream, but I guess, yeah, it could have downsides.

[00:25:22] Cathy Benwell: Because they're not

[00:25:23] James Gill: quite

[00:25:23] Cathy Benwell: convinced about the too many easter eggs.

[00:25:25] You're thinking, what's the problem? I want to know what happened

[00:25:28] James Gill: to them. I want to know what happened to them, Cathy. Did you end up, that's Easter sorted?

[00:25:34] Cathy Benwell: No, just these, just these families got a lot of Easter

[00:25:38] James Gill: eggs.

[00:25:38] Cathy Benwell: More than, more than probably they needed. And then of course, at the same time, you're, you're working on the messaging around healthy eating.

[00:25:44] And so it's, it gets a little bit complicated. Yeah,

[00:25:47] James Gill: that is a complex kind of world. I guess it's

[00:25:49] Cathy Benwell: once, it's only once a year.

[00:25:51] James Gill: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That's amazing. I, and I, I mean, maybe, Given we're almost out of time, I can't believe how quickly this is flowing by, but I definitely would love to hear more about other things that businesses have donated.

[00:26:05] I, I, I'm sure you've got some great examples there.

[00:26:08] Cathy Benwell: Yeah. I mean, one thing, so this is, this is quite a an interesting sort of post COVID thing. So do you remember those Perspex screens that kind of popped up everywhere in, in all kinds of businesses that you went into, whether it was banks or shops or so last year we had a whole load of those listed.

[00:26:24] And again, I was kind of thinking, Oh, you know, those, those feel like they've maybe sort of had their day. They ended up going to a community farm very nearby to this business. And these guys had all kinds of plans for how they were going to use them to help with enclosures certain bits of planting that they were doing that needed protection.

[00:26:42] Certain sort of, yeah, enclosures related to animals. And I just thought that is great because that business, probably it would never have occurred to them. That a farm might be able to use something like that. Another really cool one that happened just earlier on this year was we've had, we've actually had a number of construction firms join us in the last few months, which has been really exciting.

[00:27:00] And one of them has joined and has been very, very engaged, very active, and they had masses and masses, like hundreds and hundreds of concrete bricks. And my messaging to businesses is always, you know, you can donate literally anything, that's what I say to people. Yeah. But when these came on, even I was thinking, hmm, concrete bricks, you know, that's quite niche.

[00:27:19] Will there be that many charities looking? They got matched immediately. They went to a fantastic charity working with people experiencing homelessness. They had recently had their kitchen condemned because of asbestos. So they'd been told you have to rip your kitchen down and completely rebuild it from scratch.

[00:27:34] They'd just started that process. They were just beginning. You know, about to go out and buy thousands of bricks. And then they saw this post. So, I mean, that was just so, I just thought that was brilliant because that was something, a project that needed to, you know, great example of something that's actually really needed.

[00:27:49] They needed to rebuild the kitchen. They would have had to use significant amounts of their, you know, core funding to do that. And then the, the, the sort of the. The great extra, the added extra that happened with that match was this construction company then teamed up with another company, a courier company to deliver the bricks to them because there had been a bit of a back and forth about how on earth are we going to collect these

[00:28:10] James Gill: bricks.

[00:28:11] Cathy Benwell: That is even more challenging than the Easter eggs I

[00:28:13] James Gill: can imagine. So, so this construction

[00:28:15] Cathy Benwell: company, I mean, they were real superstars and they said, you know, we're going to throw that in as well. We're going to make sure the delivery is covered for you. And make sure that you get your books. So that was a, and again, you know, an example of something that's not glamorous.

[00:28:27] It doesn't seem kind of high value or exciting. But really had, you know, can have such an enormous impact a bit like the paint. Yeah, but there is just such a variety. I mean, there is lots of the very regular stuff. So absolutely. There's lots of furniture, lots of furniture. There are lots of laptops, phones, tablets.

[00:28:43] Printers there's lots of clothing, books, toys, lots of stationary. But then some really unusual things. We had some, a whole load of Bluetooth speakers last year. So this was a promotional merchandise company that had all these brand new untouched Bluetooth speakers that had been branded with a logo client didn't need them anymore, or possibly client had changed their logo.

[00:29:03] And hence they were, you know, redundant. And you know, 20 years ago, goodness knows what would have happened to those. But now, of course. You know, these companies have to be super careful about what they do with the things that they don't need anymore. So they needless to say, I mean, they went in seconds.

[00:29:17] They almost crashed the site. They were, they were so popular. It, it tends to be actually lots of the gifty type things are really, really popular. We've had candles. We've had beautiful lovely organic candles that this lovely company donated a couple of years ago. And again, They just went absolutely nuts.

[00:29:34] And people had such nice stories. Charities had such lovely stories around how they were creating, you know, gift bags, either for people they're supporting or for their volunteers to thank them for having worked with them. So yeah, just a huge range of stuff. We've actually had lots of sort of theater set items.

[00:29:49] We've got a couple of theater companies that have joined us. And donated an entire theater set a couple of weeks ago, went to a charity which again had all kinds of ideas for how they were going to use it. People often take things and use them either in community gardens that they're building. You know, there's lots of people making sort of beautiful outdoor spaces especially charities that are supporting people with mental health issues.

[00:30:11] That will take stuff and just use it in a really, really creative way. So yeah, it's, it's totally inspiring to see. We've had lots of hotels that have joined us in the last couple of months. We've had a real rush of hotels and that's a huge source of, of things and donations. We've had lots of hotel, ex hotel uniforms.

[00:30:28] So again, maybe. They'd slightly changed their logo. These were all perfectly, you know, usable, serviceable bits of clothing. They went to a charity in West London, working with asylum seekers that had arrived with very little clothing. You know, they were absolutely thrilled this charity to get these.

[00:30:43] Again, from hotels, we've had shaving kits. So just little packs with a razor and a a small bottle of shaving foam in. There were loads of charities that went for that, you know, any charity working with people experiencing homelessness, those types of things are brilliant. Kitchen items, we get lots of different types of kitchen items, whether it's an office that's maybe refitting their kitchen and they're just like, let's get everything out and get, you know, new stuff put in, you know, dishwashers, microwaves, mugs, plates, forks, spoons, those all go immediately.

[00:31:10] So many charities can make use of that stuff.

[00:31:13] James Gill: So literally everything. Oh yeah, I could go on and

[00:31:16] Cathy Benwell: on, James.

[00:31:19] James Gill: I think I'm just going to waste, well, I don't know about waste my afternoon, spend my afternoon looking through everything that's listed on the site. Yeah. That is incredible. I'm hoping that people listening, well, I think there might be a mix of people listening that are in businesses that have got things to donate and, and charities that are listening that are thinking, wow, this sounds like, Where has this been all my life?

[00:31:40] So yeah, that is incredible. I, I, you've really opened my eyes. I, I, I could, I could listen to your stories all day there, Cathy, because I, I'm, I'm just fascinated. Like, it, yeah. Incredible. I, I, I have one more question and then we'll wrap. And and that is just, what does the future look like for, for you all there?

[00:31:59] Yeah. Great question. How are you thinking about the future? I

[00:32:02] Cathy Benwell: mean, we are growing super, super fast. So we're feeling very positive about the future and, you know, I would love every business in the UK to be using a good thing. You know, we've got this dream of a sticker that would go on your door if you're a physical business or it would go somewhere on your website.

[00:32:18] Yeah. If you're not, which would say we're doing a good thing. And it would be this, you know, this badge, this marker of, you know, what we're doing, how responsible we're being, how we're dealing with our waste or the things that we don't need any longer, how we're supporting our local charities, and it would essentially become this Sort of broad brand for businesses to engage with charities.

[00:32:39] We've dipped our toes a little bit into the waters of things other than physical things. So things like space. So we've actually had a number of different types of groups listed, either retail space, office space. Space, storage space has been listed and people are really interested in that. So lots of companies are interested in donating space.

[00:32:57] And, you know, if you think about it, there's comp, there's companies with, you know, beautiful, you know, conference rooms meeting spaces, gathering spaces that all weekend, for example, are completely unused. And then you've got charities running kind of groups and things at the weekends potentially who don't have anywhere to meet.

[00:33:13] So that's just one avenue is the sort of the space idea. Okay. The other is things like transport. So mini buses, you know, if you've got a business that has a mini bus, but again, maybe Friday to Sunday, it just sits in the office car park and doesn't get used. So that's, you know, we would love that.

[00:33:27] That's when I'm talking about the sort of broader engagement between businesses and charities, we would love a good thing to become that, you know, default route that businesses are using.

[00:33:37] James Gill: That's incredible. I, that, I mean, yeah, even more ideas now popping into my head. So thank you, Cathy. I honestly, it sounds.

[00:33:46] It sounds brilliant. I, I think, yeah, I would just be amazed if there's not, I mean, anyone listening to this thinking like they could get involved in some way. So yeah, fantastic. I, I'm so blown away by what you're doing. So thank you for sharing it with everyone. And you know,

[00:34:02] Cathy Benwell: if people are listening and they're interested our website is agoodthing.

[00:34:04] org. uk. It takes 30 seconds to create an account. We really have made it incredibly simple and low touch. So for a business, you can create your account in 30 seconds and then create your listing for something just like you would on eBay in a couple of minutes, and then you're done. And for a charity, obviously just set that account up and then you'll start receiving your email alerts immediately about the items that are on offer nearby.

[00:34:28] So very, very simple and straightforward to use.

[00:34:32] James Gill: You can't say no. You can't say no. How could anyone say no to that? That's amazing. Kathy, thank you so much for for joining me on the show today. Oh, it's

[00:34:42] Cathy Benwell: been a pleasure. Thank you, James.

[00:34:44] James Gill: Cheers. Thank you. And thank you to everyone for, for listening, watching, tuning in.

[00:34:49] I hope you've enjoyed Cathy's story. If you have, be sure to leave a good review and tell others about it. That would be great. And yeah, thank you for, for watching, listening and see you next time.

Creators and Guests

Cathy Benwell
Cathy Benwell
Cathy Benwell is co-founder of social enterprise A Good Thing CIC, a nonprofit online platform that connects charities right across the UK with businesses that have things to give away.
S5E3 'Donation Match-Making for Charities & Businesses', with Cathy Benwell 🎁
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