What's it really like?Marian Lawrence is a Californian living in Warwickshire, and the manager of the Oxfam book shop in Royal Leamington Spa in Warwickshire. "I originally did voluntary campaign work with Oxfam, and then found myself working in a shop when the Tsunami occurred and Oxfam had asked for extra volunteers. It was great fun, and the other volunteers were all really interesting, so I settled into a regular slot. Eventually I found myself doing a paid (part-time) job as deputy manager, and now I manage an Oxfam Book & Music Shop. There are many opportunities within Oxfam as well as in the retail side of things - campaign work, project work all over the world and the full range of administrative and financial posts. Oxfam works with people all over the world to try to alleviate poverty and the causes of climate change, etc, which are contributing factors. This is reflected in the shops, where people from all sorts of backgrounds and abilities come together for the same cause - to help raise funds to promote Oxfam's projects, and to help those who are less fortunate than themselves. Many volunteers are also looking for paid work, and some find it within Oxfam. We work as a team, and all the volunteers are willing to do what they can to promote Oxfam and our bookshop. I find the flexibility of the working patterns to be a benefit, although the downside to being a manager is the expectation of always being available should anything further be required of me. I guess this is the case with many management roles, and it applies to charity shop work just as it does with anything else. I decided to join Oxfam after participating in several campaign drives, and working in the shop became a natural progression for me. I enjoy the fact that the more effort I put into Oxfam, the more rewarding my contribution becomes. I have worked for several non-charity businesses (in various admin roles) back in the US where this simply was not the case. You never really get over the feeling of helping people, and that is the greatest reward in my job. My responsibility is to the charity and to the 40 workers we currently rotate via the shift patterns. I enjoy working with both young and old, and Oxfam is supportive to those who want to work for the charity but have disabilities or less-than-perfect English. My future aspirations centre around the shop in Leamington, as I have the flexibility to suggest ventures to the charity, and I am usually well supported in these goals. It helps to have such a pro-active team around me, and everyone who works for the shop on an unpaid basis does so because they find it rewarding. We have a lot of fun doing it, too!"
Charity Shop Worker
Charity shop workers are divided into paid staff and unpaid volunteers. The volunteers work various shifts each week or month, and the managers are responsible for ensuring that the retail unit under their control manages to achieve the goals and targets set for them by the charity group. Charity shops around the UK are retail outlets which function as 'front of house' collection points for a majority of the large charity organisations. Much of a charity's income can be derived from the resale of new and second-hand products which have been donated to charity shops, include clothing, books, DVDs, music, vintage products and collectibles. Whilst many of the people who work in these charity shops are unpaid volunteers, there will usually be a salaried shop manager, and often a paid deputy manager as well. It is the responsibility of the store manager(s) that the shop is run in accordance with the demands set out by the operating group. All the employees in a charity shop, whether volunteers or paid staff, work together to ensure that the donated goods are sorted out and sold in an efficient manner in order to bring in as much additional funding as possible for the charity.
SalaryThe salary range for a manager position at one of the larger and well-known charity organisations is between £14,000 and £18,000. This figure is pro-rata, as the expectation is that much of the shifts are covered by unpaid volunteers, so the take-home pay can often be somewhat less due to a shorter working week. A moderately-sized branch will normally have around 35-40 volunteers in rotation, so regular cover is normally available. The salary for a deputy manager is around £12,000, but again this is pro-rata and depends on the number of hours the deputy is required to work. It is worth noting that personal remuneration is not usually the key driver behind a person's decision to pursue this type of career, and it should be taken into consideration alongside a desire to help others. There are additional benefits offered by many of the organisations, such as the option of a personal pension plan and flexible working patterns.
- Assist customers in finding the appropriate item they are looking for.
- Receive items being handed in by the public and sort them into relevant categories.
- Ensure the display is attractively presented and arranged in a logical fashion.
- Ensure the shop achieves its revenue targets.
- Keep up to date with group-wide happenings via newsletters and other communications.
- Manage ongoing relationships with repeat customers.
- Have a flexible approach to working and shift patterns.
- Be compassionate towards the charity group and its core operational objectives.
- Organise local events for maximum publicity.
- Attend regional meetings regarding targets and improvement.