Top 10 Conference tips….revisited


In 2019, we published our Top 10 Tips for getting the most from the Charity Retail Association Conference.

Now we’re finally able to get back to seeing each other in person again, it felt like a good time to revisit and update our blog, so here goes….

1 Follow the COVID recommendations to keep us all safe

We know we’re all tired of hearing it, and most of us will be double-jabbed, but the most important message for 2021 has to be for us all to do everything we can to prevent passing on the virus. Happily for us, the brilliant folk at the CRA have provided a Risk Assessment for us to look at and adhere to over the 2 days. Please make sure you read and comply with this – the last thing our sector needs now is for a whole bunch of charity retailers to have to self isolate….

2 Get there early and stay ‘til the end.

There’s so much to see and do that it’s foolish to leave early. If you can, make sure you get there as soon as you can and don’t leave before the last session – you never know what you might miss if you do!

3 Network

Some of the best things to come out of the conference might not be from a formal session or workshop. We are a sector which loves to share – meeting and chatting with fellow charity retailers will give you some great new contacts and ideas to take back to your shops.

4 Go to all the sessions you can

If you’re lucky and there’s more than one of you from your organisation going to conference, make sure you all go to different sessions so you can cover as much information as possible – then make sure you build in time when you get home to share everything you’ve learned with each other. If you’re there on your own, go to a wide range of subjects to give yourself the broadest view.

5 Visit the Exhibition

We know we’re a bit biased, but honestly – some of the suppliers to our sector are the bee’s knees. They are there to help you do the best you can with your chain, so make time to visit all the stands and see what they can do for you. And whilst we’re on the subject…..

6 Enjoy the freebies!

Most of the suppliers will have great little giveaways on their stands – from chocolates to bags, highlighter pens to mini dustbins, they have it all!  We’re doing our bit and bringing our recycled plastic “I Heart Charity Shops” eco keyrings with us this year, so make sure you visit us at Stand 21 to get yours.

We’ll also have a free Green Credentials for Charity Retailers course available at our Charity Retail Learning stand, plus our Visual Merchandising Associate, Kat Maclennean will be sharing her tips and display techniques in the Atrium, so do pop by and see her. We’re really grateful to Morplan for providing the shop equipment and Essex & Herts Air Ambulance for providing the stock for Kat’s display.

7 Vote in the WOW! Awards

There really is some first rate talent in our sector and the WOW! Awards are a chance to see the best of it in action.  It’s great to be recognised for your good work, so voting supports your sector colleagues – and it gives you lots of great ideas to take back and try in your own shops too.

Pic: Shelter, Coal Drops yard

8 Stay hydrated and eat your lunch

It’s a full on experience at Conference, and often really hot too – so keeping refreshed will keep you at peak condition to make sure you make the most of it – especially on Day 2 after a late night partying at the Awards dinner.

9 Remember the notes are available afterwards

Don’t feel you have to scribble everything down during all the sessions – more often than not, the lovely team at the CRA will make them available on their website after the event. This means you can concentrate on what’s going on, instead of worrying about what you might have missed

10 Have fun!
It’s a brilliant event and the one time in our year we can all get together and have a really good catch up. Enjoy the sessions, the networking, the Exhibition – and of course the Awards dinner. We’ll see you on the dance floor……

Pic: CRA

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