Charities Advisory Trust

About the Charities Advisory Trust

Beginnings: Back in 1979, courtesy of Home Office funding, Dame Hilary Blume started the Charity Trading Advisory Group to provide impartial information on all aspects of trading and income generation for charities.

Aims: We are dedicated to finding practical methods of redressing inequalities and injustice.

Evolution: Our methods, on the other hand, have evolved considerably. We quickly moved from giving advice to setting frameworks in which charities could succeed. We're wedded to the idea that nagging problems are best served by innovative, pragmatic solutions. 

What we've achieved (Our Current Projects)

Card Aid: In 1980 we established Card Aid and revolutionized the charity Christmas card market in 3 ways: (a) by providing charities with a tailor-made service plus pragmatic advice, (b) by supplying Christmas cards to companies who welcome the ability to support charity and (c) helping charities access new markets through the Card Aid chain of charity Christmas card shops, the largest in London, selling high quality cards for over 100 charities and good causes. Over the years, Card Aid has raised tens of millions. 

Scrooge Awards: 2013 is our 12th Scrooge Awards. We have run a very successful campaign to highlight the small amount going to charity on so called charity cards sold on the high street. Commercial card companies and retailers try to cash in on the charity card market. The Scrooge Awards highlight bad practice.

Good Gifts Catalogue: In autumn 2003, we launched the Good Gifts Catalogue, a radical concept in giving, employing charitable donations to buy imaginative gifts like 'goats for peace' and acres of threatened rain forest. The soaring success of the idea has not only generated many millions of pounds, but also a slew of imitations. However, Good Gifts remains the catalogue uniquely committed to the principle of actually buying the gifts stated, rather than using the income for general purposes.


Knit For Peace: Knit For Peace is our newest initiative and it is based on an observation that knitting provides benefits both to the knitter and the recipient. Knit for Peace started by encouraging women and men from different, often historically hostile, communities to come together informally to knit. Based on our experience of developing Knit for Peace over the last few years, we have learned that knitting is extremely important as an activity that can be carried out right into extreme old age and helps improve long-term health. As well as encouraging everyone to knit, we receive daily donations of hand-knitted clothes from knitters all over the UK. We never sell the clothes, we send them to where they are needed. We send out tens of thousands of items a year, giving to a diverse range of services, such as refugee centres, homeless shelters, and hospitals.

Grant Giving: The Trust has been giving over £500,000 a year, eclectically and nearly all pro-actively. We find the projects and the people and help them develop their ideas. 

The Green Hotel: We established The Green Hotel, in Mysore, South India as a model of sustainable tourism with all profits given to charitable and environmental projects in India. Green in both name and operation, our hotel has been garlanded with numerous travel accolades and awards, with the most satisfying comment coming from Time magazine (Asia): "the best place in Asia to improve your karma". 

Peace Oil®:
 Peace Oil®, a Charities Advisory Trust initiative, is produced in Israel by Jews, Arabs, Druze and Bedouin working together. The olives, grown in the foothills of the Carmel Mountains, are pressed within hours of picking to produce a prize winning extra virgin oil. By encouraging co-operation between communities and helping to market their produce, we hope that Peace Oil® will deliver economic prosperity, encouraging others to follow its example. 

Some history

We have highlighted our current, ongoing work. In the past we have managed the trading for the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and the Royal Shakespeare Company. We recycled the Chelsea Flower Show. We started the Charity Shop Group (now the Charity Retail Association). We produced a range of books - the Charity Trading Handbook, the Museum Trading Handbook and Charity Trading and the Law. In 1991 we set up Mail Out (for the Camden Society. We ran the very successful Museum Stores in London, donating £100,000 to the education department at the British Museum from the projects. We devised the Medical and Dental Electives, programmes for hospitals in South India. We have advised charities and museums on their trading, and held training courses particularly for emergent Eastern European countries. An important aspect of the Trust's method of working is that we encourage organisations we have set up to become independent. We do not want to empire build - rather to remain a small innovative organisation, focussed on pragmatic solutions.