Over the past two decades, we’ve partnered with the UK-based charity, In Kind Direct, an amazing organisation that distributes donated products to those most in need.
Since our partnership began in 2001, we’ve supported 3,107 charitable organisations helping community projects, child/ youth care and family welfare organisations across the UK. Our brands have donated products including Mitre sportswear and equipment, Speedo products, Kickers’ footwear and clothing from Berghaus, ellesse and Canterbury of New Zealand. So far in 2022, our brands products have reached 341 charitable organisations.
Ultimately, this partnership is about distributing items that provide warmth and protection and support physical and mental wellbeing. For people facing tough financial times a pair of high-quality school shoes, a football, or a warm jacket can make a positive impact.
We talked to Rosanne Gray, CEO of In Kind Direct, and Sara Brennan, Positive Business Director for Pentland Brands, about the shared values that have helped this charity partnership to survive and thrive.
Who benefits from products given to In Kind Direct?
Rosanne: We work with over 4,000 charities across the UK, including registered charities, community groups, food banks and schools. Low-income families are a key group of people we support. Currently, 15 million people live in relative poverty in the UK, and that challenge is only growing.
Products we distribute are vital to support families unable to purchase essential items and enable their children to participate in activities at local community centres. Every week, our products reach almost 250,000 people through our network of charitable organisation across the UK.
How is Pentland Brands working with In Kind Direct to improve the lives of people in our communities?
Sara: Our positive business strategy includes improving the lives of 1 million people in our communities by 2032. We do this in many ways including our fantastic brands giving products to In Kind Direct, who then distribute them to charitable causes.
These donations are not just about helping with an everyday need for clothing and footwear; they become a conduit for wellbeing. For example, sportswear enables someone to be involved in team sports, building their self-confidence. Or outdoor clothing makes it easier for a person to be active and enjoy the outdoors, creating space for mental wellbeing. In 2021 we improved the lives of 100,000 people in our communities, a large part of that through product donation through In Kind Direct.
We also do more than just product donations; we donate 1% of profits each year to charitable causes and carve out time for our employees to give back through volunteering. Our brands drive positive social impact through supporting causes aligned to their purpose. These actions add up and impact people in our communities, as seen in our Positive Business report.
How are you helping UK communities with global challenges such as the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis?
Rosanne: There’s a real and increasing challenge with inflation rates in the UK. We recently learned, from our YouGov Omnibus survey that nearly two in five low-income families have gone without essential items due to budget constraints. People make tough decisions to go without these items long before going to a food bank. We can only help by listening and then partnering with donating companies to make sure we have a consistent supply of needed products.
Sara: The cost-of-living crisis means that those who needed our help during the pandemic need it even more now. It means so much knowing Kickers’ quality shoes will last and help kids feel confident, or Mitre footballs help people feel part of a community. These examples show the power of our brands’ products to unleash the potential for self-care through mental and physical wellbeing. Hopefully, this is a small way to give communities one less thing to worry about.
What has made the partnership between Pentland and IKD span two decades?
Rosanne: We feel like we’re on the same team, and Pentland Brands are willing to jump into our world and understand us. The brands have really engaged and understood their purpose and how they can support it through us.
We have an ambition by 2025 to save the charity sector £45 million and support 600,000 people each week with products we distribute. And we can only do that in partnership with Pentland Brands and other donating companies.
Sara: Having a shared mission of making a positive social impact, the backing of our shareholders and the support and commitment of our employees, who are incredibly proud of this partnership, have been the driving forces behind this long-standing partnership.
What are the environmental benefits of product giving?
Sara: There’s a call to action for brands and companies to stop throwing away products when others need them. It’s wasteful when there’s a need for it. We need to switch mindsets, so people see the huge benefits of donating surplus stock to charities like In Kind Direct.
What advice would you give to other businesses wanting to increase their social impact?
Rosanne: Start with what you do best; what amazing products and skills do you already have? And use them to make a difference.
Sara: My advice would be just to start. Even though it might seem overwhelming, start small and then scale up later. Partner with a charity to help you, and you’ll know you’ll be really making an impact.
In Kind Direct is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. What would you love to achieve in 25 years?
Rosanne: Part of me doesn’t want In Kind Direct to be here, and I hope people can afford the essential products they need. But we’ll continue to support grassroots charitable organisations while the problem exists. We know that by working together and utilising different resources, we can positively impact many people.
The other part acknowledges that the charity network has existed in the UK for 150 years; I don’t think the charity sector is going anywhere. I hope in 25 years we can still help people.
Sara: Like Rosanne, I hope that the need isn’t there, but if it is, I hope it’s less. For us, in 25 years, we would have passed our 2032 goals. Wouldn’t it be great if we could double or triple or quadruple them to help as many people as possible? I hope that, ultimately, we can show how our pioneering brands are making life better for more people.
Want to get involved?
Support In Kind Direct in their mission to power kind by donating usable products. Or if you’re a charity in need, register for free and find quality donated products to support your community. Find out more here.