About British Heart Foundation
The British Heart Foundation is the UK’s leading heart research charity and the largest independent funder of cardiovascular research. Founded in 1961, the BHF’s vision is a world free from the fear of heart and circulatory diseases.
The BHF is funded by generous donations and support from the general public. This includes people leaving legacy gifts in their wills taking on fundraising challenges, making charitable donations and donating to or shopping in BHF shops. The first BHF shop was opened in 1987 and since then the charity has gone on to open over 750 charity shops and stores throughout the UK, as well as online and on eBay.
The BHF raises money to research new and improved ways of preventing, diagnosing, and treating heart and circulatory diseases. It funds over £100 million (US $122 million) of research each year into heart and circulatory conditions including heart disease, diabetes, vascular dementia, and stroke.
eBay for Charity Solution: Direct Selling
Thirteen years ago, in 2006, two founding members of a small retail team launched a sales experiment at the BHF. The pair scoured the charity’s shops around Halifax, West Yorkshire, looking for unique, interesting items. Then, working from a small room above one of those shops, the pair would catalogue, clean, photograph, and list the items on eBay—giving the UK-based charity access to potential customers from across the globe.
The experiment paid off. Today, BHF is the highest-grossing charity on the eBay platform—experiencing 30 percent annual sales growth and will surpass £20 million in total sales revenue as of December 2019. The charity sells and ships more than 4,000 items each week and aims to reach £6 million in sales in 2018-2019 alone.
eBay’s online shop window has 340 million viewers and exposing those shoppers to the unique and individual items that BHF’s retail colleagues receive by donation, opens a world of opportunity. Combine brand and world-class service from the operation with the expectation to maximize revenue from every item generously donated, the BHF is able to build upon their recipe for success.
Today, both founder members continue to be involved in the daily operation of the BHF eBay store. The team now has access to over 750 shops and stores to seed inventory for the online store, as the charity aspires to be the go-to site for collectibles, unique items, and one-of-a-kind gifts.
Learnings & Benefits
Unique items that are well detailed, researched, and photographed always sell well on eBay. Customers are generally looking for something slightly unusual from an experienced and trusted seller.
The BHF operates the online sales platform as part of their retail strategy and have invested significant time and effort to ensure customers receive their orders on time and in full.
The benefit is clearly exposing items to the largest shop window possible and eBay helps the BHF achieve this.
“The relentless pace of ‘online’ can offer some retailers a significant challenge. BHF, however, have harnessed the power of retail online and built upon our brand with a major professional operation. We delight customers and generous donators alike. Where else could you buy “unique every week?”
— Andrew Ostcliffe Online Operations Manager British Heart Foundation