Facial Palsy UK

Facial Palsy UK Raises Funds and Shares Charitable Resources with Shopify

Facial Palsy UK is a small charity that supports people with facial paralysis due to any cause. They provide information, treatment, and support to those affected by the condition and their relatives.

The charity was recently established after the Facial Palsy Clinic was set up at the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead. Since then, they have raised funds through a variety of sources to support their work, including online sales.

Karen Johnson is the deputy CEO at Facial Palsy UK. "We're only three years old so [we] are still in our fledgling stages as a charity, and we are absolutely focused on keeping costs to a minimum," she says.

Raising funds through an online shop

"Previously we were using eBay for selling a few items such as key-rings, wristbands, and t-shirts, but this was always quite a time-consuming process to manage," she says.

"eBay's invoicing system is also quite complicated with different levels of fees."

Revenue from e-commerce is naturally attractive, but implementing a professional-quality store has in the past been challenging and expensive for the organization.

"We had looked at Shopify before but couldn't warrant paying the full cost of the software for the little we sell each month," says Johnson.

Game-changer: Shopify donations for UK charities

"We were really pleased when Shopify became available via tt-exchange." [now called Charity Digital Exchange]

Shopify is a world-leading, fully hosted e-commerce system that allows organizations to set up and run a store via their websites. They joined as a partner on the tt-exchange software donation program in June 2015, giving UK charities one-year subscriptions to the Shopify Unlimited plan with roughly 95 percent savings on the standard annual fee.

Alongside the cost, the technical complexity of setting up new IT systems is sometimes a real constraint — especially for smaller charities. Thankfully, Facial Palsy UK had no issues there.

"We didn't need professional help to set up Shopify; there is lots of support available online for the product," says Johnson.

An unusual benefit — just for charities

Interestingly, Facial Palsy UK ended up using Shopify for a purpose you might not normally think about with an e-commerce platform, which is charity-sector specific.

"One of the areas where it has really helped us is with our free products such as information guides for health professionals," says Johnson.

"Because we need to track how many people are downloading these guides and to be able to contact those people again, should they wish to be contacted, we were having to issue the guides manually on request previously.

"Now people can order them free of charge via our Shopify page. And if we ever update the guide, we just re-upload to Shopify, and Shopify will automatically notify everyone who downloaded an older version that a newer version is available."

"Why we do what we do"

Richard Craig, CEO at Technology Trust [now called Charity Digital], said, "We love hearing about how the IT donations on tt-exchange are making a real difference to charities. It's why we do what we do."

"We really hope that sharing these case studies can inspire others to realize what's available and help charities accelerate their missions through modern tech."