Hi my name is helena and i want to start up a charity shop i have no idea what im doing but i want to put back to the communty i would be very gratefull for any advice on what i do first.. do i get the shop first?? im clueless.. thank you.


deirdreg's picture

Helena,It is really great


It is really great that there are people who want to give of their time and energy to give something back to their community. It's very important to make sure that you are doing it in the right way and for the right reasons - hence asking the questions up front like you are doing is a great first step. 

My advice to you would be to think about the reasons you want to set up a charity shop. Is it to help a particular cause? a particular part of the community? (e.g. people who are sick or who have disabilities or who have literacy difficulties?). That it is the most important first step. It is only when you are clear about what you would like the ideal outcome to be for you, that you should then proceed to think about the way that you might make a contribution.

In terms of assessing the best way for you to make the contribution that you are now clear about, there are also many different things for you to think about. And opening a charity shop might well not be the best way for you to help the particular cause that you have identified as being the cause for you. In fact, it may well be that the best thing that you can do with your energy and enthusiasm is to find people who are already organised and doing work in the community and offer to help them.

In the current straitened economic times, I would, as a general principle, encourage people not to start up new charitable ventures without doing a very decent amount of thinking, as outlined above, and actual exploration as to what else is "out there" that is already going on. Even if that work identifies a gap or a need that is not being met, I would strongly encourage people to see first if existing ventures can expand to fill that need, rather than setting up a new organisation. There are very many demands on the generosity of the public in terms of the "asks" that area already going on through charity shops, appeal letters and advertisements, collections on the street etc. Another such venture, which is not clearly adding value to what is going on out there might run a large risk of back-firing.

I would recommend that you research first what is going on in your community and how you can help. Setting up a charity shop is not a simple job, and it may well be that you would be tied up in red tape getting a charity number etc, when you would be much better off actually helping people directly. Place to start your  research would be some of the folliowing:

  • your local volunteer centre: check out to find your local volunteer centre. Their role is to match people like you who want to help with causes and groups that need help.
  • your local citizens information centre. Check out These organisations usually have lots of leaflets from voluntary organisations telling people what it is that they do.
  • Simply "google" the issues and areas in which you are interested to find out who else is working in that sphere. You acn search the directlyr that is on our own website: by keyword in order to find out what is "out there".
  • You can check out the volunteer opportunities that are advertised on the jobs section of and also on
  • You can also talk to the charities that already run charity shops to see if you can help run one or open a new one in your area for them. The ones that immediately spring to mind are: age actiohn, the NCBI, Barnardos, Vincent de Paul. There are many others though, and you can find out all about them at the website for the Irish Charity Shops Association which is:

Like any venture, whether it be in our work places or our hom lives, getting the thinking and the preparation done is the most of the work. In yoru case, I would very much advise seeking out more information so that you can invest your time and energy in making the actual contribution that you have expressed wanting to make.

Best of luck with it, whatever you do.