Innovations That Matter

7 Creative Solutions to Inspire Charity Innovation

Innovation Snapshot

With International Day of Charity in mind, we hope the following ideas inspire more entrepreneurs and NGOs to develop creative purpose-driven initiatives

During our daily mission of discovering innovations that matter, we come across several solutions of a philanthropic and charitable nature, whether they be from for-profit businesses looking to give back, or non-profit organizations whose raison d’etre is to help those in need. 

With this year’s International Day of Charity (5 September) nearly upon us, we decided to revisit some of the most innovative ideas we’ve uncovered over the past year that are in the spirit of this annual holiday, which was established by the United Nations, “with the objective of sensitizing and mobilizing people, NGOs, and stakeholders all around the world to to help others through volunteer and philanthropic activities.”

This day also comes shortly after Springwise, and our parent company Re_Set, had the privilege of becoming Certified B Corporations, in part for our own charitable efforts. Through our membership with 1% For The Planet, which connects us to some of the most environmentally-concerned organisations in the world, we partnered with WeForest to plant 3,250 trees in southern Brazil over the past year. 

We hope the following ideas inspire more entrepreneurs to develop purpose-driven initiatives, and to encourage NGOs to continue their creative and tireless charitable pursuits. 

Photo source Serious Tissues

1. SUSTAINABLE TOILET PAPER RAISES FUNDS FOR THE NHS

During the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK, Change Please, the social enterprise that works to provide an income for homeless people, created a new brand of toilet roll called Serious Tissues. 

The Serious Tissues are made from 100 per cent recycled paper. Originally intended to launch in the summer and benefit the fight against climate change, the brand has launched several months early and changed its focus to the fight against COVID-19. All of the profit from the sale of the tissues will go to charities helping NHS staff and volunteers.

Springwise also spotted Change Please last year when it was helping to get homeless people back to work by training some to be baristas.

Read more about Serious Tissues

Photo source Buses4Homeless

2. NGO TRANSFORMS DOUBLE-DECKER BUSES INTO HOMELESS SHELTERS

UK-based NGO Buses4Homeless turned decommissioned buses into shelters as part of an intervention aiming to improve the living conditions of London’s homeless. The buses were donated by Stagecoach, one of the main bus operators in London, and were part of a three-month recreational programme attempting to reintegrate homeless people back into the community. The buses not only provided shelter, but also a space for learning skills such as cooking, business training and yoga. 

Read more about Buses4Homeless.

3. PURPOSE-DRIVEN LUXURY PLATFORM LAUNCHES EXCLUSIVE VR EXPERIENCES

Inspired by the COVID-19 global health crisis, fashion, beauty and home goods seller Olivela launched Olivela IRL, an online, one-stop digital destination for everything beauty, fashion, education and fun-related. They created and invited customers and guests to sign-up for exclusive virtual experiences, tailored sessions with fashion and beauty experts and informational talks with industry pros and designers.

At the onset of the global crisis, the brand also extended its commitment to supporting vulnerable communities by donating 20 per cent of each sale to a host of local, national and international charities. Since March, Olivela has provided over 70,000 meals to kids negatively impacted by coronavirus-related school closures. Founded by Stacey Boyd in 2017 during a visit to a refugee camp with Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, the company already regularly donates to several other charities.

Read more about Olivela.

 Photo source unhoused.org

4. A SELF-CLEANING HOODIE DEVELOPED FOR THE HOMELESS

Social impact startup, Unhoused, uses innovative tech solutions and transparency to help the homeless. Late last year, the charity developed a self-cleaning hoodie that uses nanotechnology to repel liquids, sweat and stains. 

Unhoused is an online retailer where, for every item bought, another is donated to someone without a home. The company’s co-founder, Varun Bhanot, came up with the idea for the stain-repellent clothing after noticing the dirty and unwashed clothing worn by rough sleepers who aren’t able to reach washing machines. He began looking for a sustainable solution that would allow those who do not always have access to such washing facilities to stay clean for longer periods.

Read more about Unhoused. 

Photo source Beam

5. CROWDFUNDING HOMELESS CHARITY CREATES NEW KIND OF GIFT CARD

Homeless charity, Beam, created a new type of gift card this past holiday season. Rather than allowing recipients to choose from experiences or consumer goods, the card allowed them to choose a homeless person to help back into work. 

Beam is a crowdfunding platform dedicated to helping homeless people train and find employment. Rough sleepers are referred to Beam through established charities or local councils, and Beam then assigns them a support specialist who helps them develop a tailored career plan, building on their personal strengths and interests. The public can then help fund that person’s journey through Beam’s crowdfunding page.

Read more about Beam’s gift card initiative. 

6. INITIATIVE SELLS UNSOLD STOCK TO SUPPORT UNEMPLOYED FACTORY WORKERS

British startup Lost Stock allows consumers to order clothes directly from textile factories in Bangladesh, preventing cancelled orders from ending up in landfill. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and respective closure of brick and mortar shops during the lockdown, many large retailers have stopped ordering from textile factories.  It is estimated that over two billion euros worth of orders have been cancelled and that several billion unsold garments are stored in warehouses.

Most textile factories are located in low-wage countries such as Bangladesh. With the textile industry accounting for nearly 85 per cent of Bangladesh’s exports, millions of workers have lost their wages. This inspired the founder of the British purchasing application Mallzee to launch Lost Stock. Through a partnership with a local NGO, almost 40 per cent of sales will be donated to support the workers and their families. Customers can indicate what colours, size and age they prefer, but don’t know what they will receive. Each “surprise box” contains three tops, all made for well-known brands like Topshop or C&A. Each box costs €43 and is valued around €77.

Read more about Lost Stock.

Photo source Window Flicks

7. PROJECT BRINGS CINEMA TO BACKYARDS DURING LOCKDOWN

The German project Window Flicks brought the cinema to those not allowed to leave home during COVID-19 lockdown by projecting films onto the exteriors of residential buildings, allowing the entire neighbourhood to watch from their windows.

The venture launched in February, as Germany ordered its citizens to self-isolate. The organisers offered the screenings for free, and even supplied free popcorn, but encouraged residents to make donations, which all went towards supporting German independent movie theatres. 

Read more about Window Flicks.