Claire Enders Poverty

Claire Enders' advice on how brands can help those in poverty

The time for businesses to consider making donations in kind, of their own-branded products, has never been more right

By Claire Enders

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown called on brands to create a “coalition of compassion” to support those in need, earlier this year speaking at an industry conference. He laid out a plan of action - called The Multibank Initiative - where brands can help actively contribute to change, by supporting and working alongside other charities including The Trussell Trust. Claire Enders, the founder of Enders Analysis, and who works closely on the Multibank Initiative, writes why and how businesses and brands should embrace this plan of action to help those in poverty.

The Multibank Initiative is the brainchild of former PM Gordon Brown, to add an additional layer to the efforts of food banks tackling hunger, by supplying everyday household products to those most in need, so they can lead a more wholesome life.

The need for banks supplying food and household products has escalated since 2021 due to the cost-of-living crisis that is widening the experience of poverty even to those in work. Every basic household expense is higher or much higher, from the cost of rentals to those of utilities, food and transportation. While inflation is now in decline, these cost levels will remain in place while the incomes of households will slowly catch up. Obviously, it’s families and households that are already in poverty that are worst hit, while even those that earn more are being engulfed by poverty.

Each multibank is a community-based initiative, supported by a myriad of companies donating funds or making in-kind donations, local trusts and foundations, and individuals who want to be involved in making a difference to poverty. In Fife, the multibank at Lochgelly was established in collaboration with Amazon, which often receives returns of goods. In essence, the multibank enables surplus goods to be recycled into the community instead of being wasted, serving the advance of the “circular” economy.

The multibank operationally takes the form of a warehouse where donations are received and purchases of non-perishable necessities are stocked, such as household cleaning products, recycled bed linen, toothpaste and other hygiene products, loo paper, among others. These are then collected by charities to be distributed to those individuals and families that are identified as being most in need. The aim is to give them the products to live a more wholesome life while they surmount the often-temporary vicissitudes they have encountered, such as the loss of their job.

In short, companies that come to the assistance of the beneficiaries of multibanks provide both a social service and build their brand with those that would otherwise not have hygiene products at all. When their purchasing power returns, there is no doubt these will remain loyal to the brand rather than seek alternatives to purchase.

Many top brands including major brands such as Amazon and PepsiCo.are deeply engaged in the Multibank initiative.

A further incentive for companies to make donations in-kind is likely to be forthcoming in the form of a VAT exemption for products donated in kind. The Treasury is shortly to consult on lifting the requirement on companies that donate in-kind to pay the VAT on the cost of the inputs, which is usually the top 20 per cent rate.

This means that brands and businesses will be able to embrace in-kind donations without facing a financial cost. The time for brands to consider making donations in kind, of their own branded and much-loved products, has never been more right!

Claire Enders is the founder of Enders Analysis. Her main current focus is the Multibank Initiative. Claire works closely with her family’s Trust, the Northwood Trust, as a co-funder and fundraiser, on this and other social welfare projects.


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