How did you end up launching your own eBay shop?
Breastfeeding is a key influence on a child’s health and their later life chances. It is also a proven way to reduce health inequalities. But for many mothers it can be a challenge.
I had problems feeding my own daughter and found there was very little support available, so decided to do something about it. I launched my charity, Families and Babies (FAB), with the aim of supporting breastfeeding mothers and their families across the UK.
FAB funds training and volunteering opportunities for mothers, so they can become peer supporters and help increase breastfeeding rates.
To date we have supported more than 300,000 UK families, with everything from home visits to support groups and helplines.
We have always relied on funding grants, which is why it was so important the charity found a way to become self-sustaining - in case our funding should ever dry up.
To try and raise money, we started by opening a couple of high street charity shops in Bolton, which were great but limited our reach to local residents in specific communities. Through these shops, we were also being inundated with donations and were struggling to find enough space in the shops to sell all the items we had!
That’s when we decided to go for it with our own eBay charity shop.
I did a lot of research into what other charities were doing and generating on eBay and could see there was a big opportunity there.
We had lots of items to list and zero start-up costs, so while our bricks and mortar shops could capture passing trade, online we had the potential to reach the world.
When did you sell your first item on eBay?
At first, we just listed a few items to see if it was going to work and also if it would be easy to do - as we had never tried anything like this before. We listed things like bundles of clothes, toys and handbags.
Within 6 months we had raised enough additional funds through our eBay sales to facilitate two community support groups. The money also helped to pay for room rental costs, promotional items, resources and refreshments.
We quickly saw the potential and it’s fair to say it has succeeded all our expectations.
Within 12months we had made almost £16k, which was absolutely amazing and we realised that this way we could sustain the charity for years to come, meaning we would no longer be reliant on funding grants alone.
Our two charity shops in Bolton continue to raise funds and we’re very lucky to have so many fantastic donations coming in, alongside lots of repeat customers on eBay. Myself and my husband now spend our evenings listing the items and I really enjoy it. There’s something quite therapeutic about it! I get especially excited watching the auctions and the last-minute bids that often come in.
We make sure we share out the items we’re given, so there are always nice things in both our shops and online. Many are new with tags, or designer items, which always go down very well.
What has your eBay shop meant for the charity?
The additional funds raised through eBay have enabled us to expand the support the charity offers and to increase our training and volunteering opportunities.
As well as breastfeeding support, it has paid for staff to have specific training around mental health, which is an area we’d like to do more in. Alongside this, I hope to get a counsellor on board this year, with the funds we have raised.
The attendance of mums, dads and other family members at the support groups we hold has increased - all of whom have said how wonderful the experience has been for them and how much it is valued.
Many have since gone on to become volunteers with us themselves.
We have been able to raise greater awareness for the issues and what we do, helping us reach more people and leading to lots more donations.