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Charity tuck shop and honesty boxes
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# 1
DrFlynn
Old 20-01-2011, 8:47 PM
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Default Charity tuck shop and honesty boxes

So... I have an idea. I would welcome your thoughts.

My office consists of about 60 people. At the moment we have three vending machines which provide chocolate, crisps, canned drink and coffee. These vending machines sell the usual rubbish, but are quite popular. However, the stuff they sell costs a lot.

I plan on starting a charity tuck shop. Basically, I want to buy stock in (relatively small) bulk and sell for slightly higher than the cost (but less than the vending machine). Profits will be put in a charity fund, with the rest replenishing the stock.

My aims are;

1) Raise money for our charity
2) Reduce the amount of time the vending machines are switched on (which costs us about 4% of the office electricity budget)
3) Phase in 'fair trade' food if the demand is there

My conerns are:

1) Will colleagues prefer a lower priced 'tuck shop' over a higher priced vending machine
2) Will an 'honesty box' system work (it won't be a manned tuck shop)
3) Are there any problems re: duty of care or tax, when it comes to selling food

I'm keen to give this a go, even if there is a small risk. However, if anyone has any experience in running similar schemes then I'd love to hear from you. Even if you don't have experience, but want to voice your opinion, then please do chip in!!

Thanks

Will
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# 2
heretolearn
Old 20-01-2011, 9:20 PM
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I've worked in a couple of places with honesty box food baskets. The money was always short. Most of the time I think it was just people not having right money and meaning to sort it out later rather than deliberate theft, but it didn't seem to work.
Cash not ash from January 2nd 2011: 2565.

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# 3
Soubrette
Old 20-01-2011, 9:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heretolearn View Post
I've worked in a couple of places with honesty box food baskets. The money was always short. Most of the time I think it was just people not having right money and meaning to sort it out later rather than deliberate theft, but it didn't seem to work.
The manager where I work tried this and she is always complaining about the money being short whenever the subject comes up. She thinks it was just theft but I'm inclined to agree with the previous poster - most people are short of money and intend to put it in at some point and forget.

I wasn't there are the time of the experiment so plead innocence
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# 4
celyn90
Old 20-01-2011, 9:35 PM
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We have one where I work, but is there is a price list and food is signed out - people are billed at the end of the week rather than money being in the drawer. It works fine and has never been short as people know exactly what they owe and one person handles the money/shopping for it.

cel x
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# 5
flea72
Old 20-01-2011, 9:44 PM
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there are charities that provide tuck boxes containing non-confectionery products. we have one at our company. its 1 per item, and it has muffins, flapjacks, rice crackers, nuts, etc in it - ie things that our vending machines dont already stock

they come round every so often and replenish the stock

might be an easier way for it to be implemented and managed

also, as people know it isnt run in-house, they are more likely to not take stuff without paying first, as they know they will have to answer to the charity if it is short - we keep our box on the reception desk, as its then available to customers too

maybe ring round some local charities who you might want to support, and see if any of them already run this scheme

F
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# 6
mountainofdebt
Old 20-01-2011, 11:09 PM
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I used to work in office where a similar thing operated although it was with a much smaller group of people.

Perhaps one way may be for you to start the process off on a small scale , perhaps in your department, and as other departments become interested get people to take responsibility for their department.
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# 7
heretolearn
Old 21-01-2011, 12:06 PM
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Or go back to having a kettle and teabags/coffee instead of a vending machine. I don't see any real need to provide snacks etc, people can bring in what they want. They might even be glad to have the temptation removed!
Cash not ash from January 2nd 2011: 2565.

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# 8
greytroot
Old 21-01-2011, 5:52 PM
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We had an honesty system in place at my last work, which i ran, with 40 employees I roughly made 100 profit per week. Buying stuff from tesco when on offer and selling at prices just less than the shops. We used the money for work outings and even a life coach session. As for the honesty part roughly we would lose about 4 of stock per week! We did this after getting rid of the vending machines - too expensive and poorly stocked.

I also paid for tea, coffee, sugar and milk for my work mates from the profits......
You cant take the trousers off an elephant!
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# 9
DrFlynn
Old 15-03-2011, 7:00 PM
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Hi all. Just wanted to give you a little update on the tuck shop front...

Six weeks ago I went ahead and decided to give the 'charity tuck shop' idea a go. Buying snacks and canned drinks in multipacks and then offering them for a 'suggested donation' of 50p has proved to be very successful and at the end of week 5, the total profit (all of which is going to our chosen charity) stood at 125! Each week has been more successful than the one before and last week's profits alone were 35). I've also found that contrary to the stories of 'honest box' systems failing, people have actually given slightly more than the suggested donation! So a really big success story so far! I'm planning on writing a little blog about it eventually to act as a 'case study' for other offices :-)
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# 10
DrFlynn
Old 06-12-2012, 9:56 PM
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Well the little blog never happened... but here's an update (nearly two years later!)

Over the past 24 months the tuckshop raised just over 2400 for charity. So 100 a month (or 400 x snacks at 25p 'profit'). To answer my initial aims:

1) We raised a lot of money for charity. It time personal time and effort for those who ran the tuckshop (I handed over the reigns about a year ago after receiving a promotion which meant I had less time).
2) Colleagues preferred the tuckshop over the vending machines as they could request specific stock in advance. We also kept them up to date with how much we were raising which helped to make an early morning chocolate bar into a guilt-free 'donation' to charity.
3) Fair trade food didn't work so well. It was hard to find special offers for fair trade food. However, since it started, various well known brands have transitioned to 'fair trade', but there was never any real demand for the tuckshop to be purely fairtrade (sadly, perhaps).

To address my initial concerns:

1) Colleagues embraced thet tuckshop and stopped using the vending machines almost straight after it was introduced. So much so that the vending machine contractors took them away within the first 12 months.
2) The books balanced most weeks. Through anecdotal feedback, people would sometimes not pay because they either didn't have the right change (and 'promised themselves' to pay it back within a few days) or didn't have their purse/wallet on them so forgot... (and 'promised themselves' to pay it back...)
3) Nobody raised any concerns about tax, etc. We were careful when designing a poster to make sure we didn't talk about 'profits', and kept it to 'suggested donations' rather than prices. I put about 50 to get the shop going, then it was self sufficient and started making 'profit' from then.

In summary, although offices differ immensely, I'd happily set up another charity tuckshop. It takes time, effort and close attention to detail - but it's worth it. And to look at it from a purely selfish point of view, it's great to bring up in an interview... it might even get you a promotion!
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# 11
somethingcorporate
Old 06-12-2012, 10:00 PM
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Fantastic story, thanks so much for filling us in on how it went.

What a great idea, well done for following through
The problem with principles is sometimes they serve no purpose other than to make the holder of said principle righteously indignant. Righteous indignation doesn't get you a refund for your item, but I guess it allows you the opportunity to chunter away on the internet. Fluffnutter
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