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Why Ethical Sourcing is Crucial for Charities

12 September, 2019

We recently celebrated the UN’s International Day of Charity on 5 September, which takes place on the anniversary of the passing of Mother Teresa. The day was established to help mobilise people and groups to help with volunteer and philanthropic efforts. On 5 September, people come together to not only educate the public on issues of concern, but also to celebrate humanity and the collective power we have to make positive change in all corners of our world. 

Charities like yours play a key role by raising awareness in support of critical causes. In recent years, custom merchandise has emerged as an indispensable tool to help extend your impact and meet fundraising goals. However, not all merchandise is created equal. As more charities leverage the power of products, it’s never been as important to establish ethical practices within your supply chain. Past and potential donors will notice. Further, proper sourcing and manufacturing is a part of living your charity’s values, protecting vulnerable people and ensuring that the work you do is transparent, ethical and people-focused.

Here, we share three key reasons why ethical sourcing must be a consideration for your charity today.

1) Protect your Reputation and Promote Transparency

Charities play a fundamental role in our society. According to the most recent Trust in Charities report, nearly 60 percent of people agree. In the report, the Charity Commission for England and Wales writes that, “charities are among the most trusted social institutions” and that they “have a special status in society, which comes with certain privileges (financial and reputational) and advantages (public support).”

At the same time, the report shows that 45 percent of people say their trust in charities decreased in the last year. Trust in the charity sector is on the decline – a statistic that you need to be aware of.

The report asked what qualities matter most when it comes to trust and confidence. Fifteen percent said that honest and ethical fundraising was important. Only two other qualities were deemed as more important, including ensuring that donations make it to the end cause and that the charity makes a positive difference toward your cause. 

One way to bolster trust is through a positive public reputation; this includes how you source your merchandise. After all, how your charity produces products is a window into how you run your charity. Today, the public increasingly requires transparency and ethical practices. In the Trust in Charities report, the Commission writes that charities have an obligation “to act to a high standard of compliant and ethical behaviour that the public expects.” Charities that do not keep up, face significant reputational and financial risks.

2) Bolster Your Donations 

Taking a strong stance on ethical manufacturing can establish your charity as a trustworthy organisation. By doing so, you’re more likely to develop better relationships with your donors and supporters. The Trust in Charities report says that those who trust charities are “far more likely” to make repeat donations than those who do not. 

If donors are confident that their purchases have a positive impact, without harming human rights in the process, they will be more likely to purchase fundraising merchandise, and come back for more. 

There are some cautionary tales out there.  The Guardian published a piece revealing that t-shirts sold to raise money for Comic Relief’s “gender justice” campaign were made at a factory in Bangladesh where women earn only 35p per hour and suffer verbal abuse. Several other outlets have picked up and shared the story. A strong commitment to ethical manufacturing will help ensure that your charity avoids the type of reputational damage that could ultimately impact the amount of money you can raise for your critical causes.  

3) Build Better Corporate Partnerships

The most successful partnerships deliver value to both parties, while enforcing aligned values and beliefs. Many of today’s leading corporations take social accountability very seriously and have strict Corporate Social Responsibility policies in place. By establishing your charity as a socially responsible organisation, you’re likely to build stronger and more profitable relationships with your corporate partners. 

As charities invest in ethical practices, so too is the private sector, which includes brands and corporates that you may wish to partner with on future campaigns. For example, fashion label Ninety Percent claims to only source its materials and manufacturing from best-practice suppliers. It also donates 90 percent of profits to charity. How you produce your products will matter to your corporate partners, as their reputation is on the line along with yours. 

We know the importance of ethical manufacturing. Which is why, at Rocket Charities, we work hard to ensure that our suppliers not only value ethical production, but that they also practice it. We make sure that our suppliers pay their workers a good wage and offer excellent working conditions. We follow key practices and certifications, like the Modern Slavery Act, SMETA auditing, Sedex best practices and ISO9001 certification. 


Even if you don’t go with us, we’re happy to share a series of questions your charity can ask to find the best possible supplier. Remember, ethical sourcing and manufacturing is a continual and ever-evolving battle. Please reach out to us anytime to talk about how we can help you safeguard your reputation and produce the highest quality, ethically manufactured products available.


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