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How some retailers are using Black Friday for fundraising and social good

Howard Lake | 25 November 2015 | News

Giving Tuesday is the combined, international response to the commercial excess of ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’. But that doesn’t stop charities, retailers and companies using Black Friday for good.

1. Is Black Friday worth charity retailers focusing on?

Alastair Petrie of charity retail IT specialists Bmc Azurri told UK Fundraising:

“When it comes to Black Friday, charity retailers can’t honestly compete with the bigger, high-end retailers. However not being able to compete at the top of the game isn’t a reason not to take part, especially because there’s a lot more to Black Friday than what you sell on the day.
“What really characterises Black Friday is engagement. Promotions can bring customers instore who might otherwise have walked on by, raise a store’s local profile and even interest people in a store they might otherwise have not even considered. All charities are ultimately social enterprises, and even nationwide charities must engage with local communities for their success. Black Friday is a great way for a charity to raise awareness and interest, especially considering the amount of focus on philanthropy which has sprung up around the event, giving charities a natural edge at this time of year.
“There’s no single, comprehensive answer to the question of how to participate, and in fact the best way for any retailer to ensure that they come out of Black Friday better off than they went in (in terms of sales) is to plan promotions based on an evaluation of how their shops, and shops in their location, work. To simply get involved in Black Friday however, any charities whose typical stock includes some more valuable items such as branded merchandise and especially furniture could look to make reductions to these higher-price items, pulling customers through the door and hopefully providing them with a great bargain which will bring them back in the future.
“Taking care to protect overall margins by keeping promotions restrained is of course important; taking advantage of existing excitement and raised awareness is only a perfect opportunity for free exposure if that exposure doesn’t actually turn out to be rather expensive. With many of the larger retailers in the country (e.g. Apple, Fat Face) running charity campaigns around Black Friday, and the giving spirit strong across the board, it would seem to be the perfect time of year to create some noise, bring in new customers and hopefully set up for repeat sales and an increased profile throughout the following year”.


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2. Charity shopping sites

Shop4Charity won’t be slashing prices on Black Friday. Instead, the company is using Black Friday to highlight its work raising funds for charities.
The site lets charities create, maintain and deliver bespoke gift sites for charities to benefit from by having their own Shop4Charity whitelabel site. It lists over 10,000 products. For each purchase, it donates “a significant percentage of that sale to charity”.
Products due to appear in its Black Friday section will include official branded merchandise from Frozen, Despicable Me, and Marvel Comics.
Of course the site is also using Black Friday to highlight the fact that it is helping to raise funds for charities throughout the year as well.

3. If you shop, benefit a charity

Online shopping site Easyfundraising claims that UK shoppers could raise over £14 million in free donations on Black Friday – simply by shopping online.
The figure is based on the expectation that £1 billion will be spent online in just 24 hours on Friday, 27th November, and, if everyone shopped online through, this could amount to £14.6 million for good causes and charities without costing shoppers a single penny extra.
The company will be promoting deals that can generate income for charities using the #GiveBackFriday hashtag.
Easyfundraising Black Friday infographic
Source:’s blog

4. Volunteer or donate on Black Friday

Fat Face will be donating to charity rather than offering steep discounts on Black Friday.
The Cambridge branch of clothing brand FatFace has chosen to support Royston-headquartered Youth at Risk. Ten per cent of the company’s overall profits taken between Black Friday and Sunday 29 November will be divided between Youth at Risk locally and other charities selected by Fat Face staff across its 221 UK stores.
Paul Murphy, store manager for the Cambridge branch of FatFace, said:

“We’re delighted to be supporting Youth at Risk this November. The charities were selected by our store crew, who want to give back to their local community, rather than get caught up in discounting. Giving back is an integral part of our brand values, and we’re very excited to be pioneering this new charitable initiative.”

Helen Campbell, head of corporate, events and individual fundraising for Youth at Risk, added:

“It’s great to see a major retailer connecting with their community in such a generous way this festive season. We’re excited about the difference this partnership will make to young people, and hope we can work together further in the future.”

Whole Foods support Centrepoint on Black Friday and up to Christmas
Similarly organic and natural food and goods retailer Whole Foods Market is turning its back on the consumerism of Black Friday by asking shoppers to slow their spending and donate to youth homelessness charity Centrepoint.
Like Easyfundraising, they are re-naming the day “Give Back Friday”.
The company will donate 5% of their gross sales on the day. But the giving isn’t just for one day: Centrepoint is Whole Foods Market’s chosen Christmas charity and customers will be able to add donations to their bill at all store till points throughout November and December.

5. Close the shops entirely

Outdoor clothing company REI is closing all its 143 stores on Black Friday and paying its staff to head outdoors. The reason? “REI believes that being outside makes our lives better”.
Some have claimed that this is simply a PR stunt and promotes the retailers clothing and products. But there must be cheaper and more effective methods of gaining PR than closing down 143 shops for a day.
The co-op’s president Jerry Stritzke said:

“We’re a different kind of company—and while the rest of the world is fighting it out in the aisles, we’ll be spending our day a little differently. We’re choosing to opt outside, and want you to come with us”.

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No fundraising involved of course, just happy, healthier staff and customers.

6. Why stop at Black Friday?

WWF #GreyThursday
WWF UK is getting in extra early on Black Friday with its ‘Grey Thursday’.
It’s clearly a flash sale, but all the charity will say at present is that it is ‘the sale not to be missed’ and that you should “keep a weather eye on your emails”.
Main image: Black Friday shopping bag by Pressmaster on