Modern Philanthropy with Good Candles / Donating £10k to charity in 2021

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A fresh approach to supporting good causes.

I am no Bill Gates but I wanted to do something that could help others and have impact over a number of years and multiple charities. I think more of you can do that too.

At £2 billion the UK candle market is well over due a shake-up. It is dull, dry and in many places very serious despite our homes evolving hugely in the last 5 years to become much happier and more colourful places.

I launched Good Candles in October 2020 and this year we look set to donate over £10k to good causes. I think more people can do things like this but the barrier to entry is hard to navigate, I aim to share some points on this so that others can do more. 

Whilst we hear the words ‘transparency’ a lot in retail, collaborative thinking can make things happen faster and better.

I wanted to put this out there for several reasons.

  1. For those people looking to do their own thing - specifically eCom / product focused.
  2. For those in a position to give significant money to good causes.
  3. Help explain to customers why we do what we do at Good-candles.com
  4. People need help. Charities are having to provide more and more for society and tax increases and spending aren't scaling with this requirement. As a society we need to find new ways to improve peoples lives.

Let me explain.

What is Good Candles?

We’re a candle company based in the UK. I set it up during the pandemic and we are committed to giving 10% of our sales to good causes. These causes range from foodbanks to reforestation and each candle donates to a specific cause that ties back to the scent.

The product sits in the premium space with a RRP of £35 / $50 and is made using quality materials and with only one piece of plastic in the whole production line (this is soon to go).

I work on it for a couple of hours a week and have a group of freelancers, artists and makers that carry out the really important work. Nobody works for free.

Why?

I had Friday afternoons free from work and for many years I had been told by my wonderful friend Anna that I should do something ‘of my own’, so I did.

I am fortunate, I had a very grown up job that paid well many years ago. I spent too much time in meetings and not enough time doing things. I realised that I needed an outlet for that creative kinda energy for a few hours a week.

Thanks to that job I also had a good income and the ability to donate to some good causes. I could donate enough that it would make a difference to a small number of people but it felt a bit empty. I felt I could do more but had no more cash and also not enough time to volunteer consistently.

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Long Term Investment Rather Than Short Term Donations

The best way to invest is often on longer term bets, not ones that deliver results within weeks. Why not apply that thought process to donating to good causes?

For some background I have spent 20 years working in retail, from shop floor to buying through to eCom and marketing. These skills could help Good Candles happen where most businesses would have to hire those skills in from outside.

I realised that if I took that relatively small amount of cash, turned it into a product and sold it using the skills I had from work I could turn a one off £4,000 donation into a £10,000 donation every year. Therefore 10x my donation over just four years with a small investment of my time and energy.

At the end of that four years not only could we have donated £40k but we would also have a business that employs people, pays taxes back into society and has a value. The business could even be sold at a value that would generate money for those good causes and also drive a small fundraising round to double that donation again.

Can the business still be a success with 10% of sales missing from the profit line?

We’ll find out but candles are margin heavy and rely upon a handful of commonly available components.

We’re break even in year one and everyone is getting paid fairly (except me as I am not taking any payment from this at the moment). 

We’re not buying or making at scale so we know there is a lot of room in the margin still to improve.

There is a challenge around margin at wholesale but we’re working that out over time. The UK candle industry is worth over £2 billion pounds and my biggest win here is to make more brands do good rather than make promises that aren’t kept.

Over ten years if we can secure 0.5% of the UK market share that is an annual charitable donation of £1 million. I know that might be a bit cocky but what if we pushed other brands into following suit, combined we could be hitting that level of donation.

Next week I’m going to share how we kicked the business off and how utilising Shopify and Instagram delivered sales from day one and how my experience with other brands helped identify the gap in the market.

Big love.

Olly

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