Every year Charity Retail Ireland conducts a Benchmarking Survey with its members to evaluate how shops benefit the charity sector, their impact on the communities where they operate and on the environment.

We use the Triple Bottom Line framework to display the results. First coined by John Elkington over 20 years ago, the triple bottom line is a sustainability framework that examines an organisation’s social, environmental and economic impact.

Although there has been some misuse of the concept in accounting circles, it has gained popularity and become part of everyday business language. The Triple Bottom Line aims to provoke deeper thinking about the purpose of business. It encourages system change to move away from the business model of measuring the financial impact and worth of an organisation. It promotes a more balanced-led approach that considers the social and environmental benefits of organisations too.


The 3Ps of the Triple Bottom Line

The triple bottom line is divided into three categories of measurement, known as the 3Ps. These are People, Planet and Profit which we have explained further below:

People: this represents the impacts felt by individuals who are directly influenced or affected by the organisation, from employees, families, customers, supplies, and the wider community.

Planet: these are the culmination of impacts on the natural environment, from the carbon footprint to the use of natural resources.

Profit: or now more commonly referred to as Prosperity, is not just about how money is made but includes the impact the organisation has on the local, national and international economy, including employment, innovation of business or products, wealth creation and more.

Charity Retail and the Triple Bottom Line

Charity Shops provide a unique example of the Triple Bottom Line concept. They provide financial benefits by providing a source of funding for charities who support the most marginalised people in our communities and seek to advocate on their behalf. They have enormous social benefits, providing local employment and training opportunities, for example, community employment schemes. The volunteering opportunities in charity shops can provide a route back to employment for those distant from the workforce as well as providing a sense of purpose and community. Finally, charity shops have a significant role in reducing the environmental impact of the textile industry. They allow textiles and other goods to remain in the circular economy for longer.

2021 Benchmarking Results

The results for 2021 show that, even though it was a year like no other, the impact of charity shops was still very significant.

Financial impact

  • €50 million sales
  • 7.7 million garments sold
  • 6.3 million customers served

Social impact

  • €37 million social impact
  • 6,800 volunteers
  • 720 people employed through Tús and CE schemes
  • 550 people employed

The social impact takes account of the value of volunteer work and the benefit to the community of labour activation schemes.


Environmental impact

  • 16,000 tonnes diverted from landfill
  • Equal to the weight of the Dublin Bus fleet
  • 115,000 CO2e tonnes carbon savings

Through sales in their shop charities have diverted 16,000 tonnes of goods from landfill, the equivalent weight of the Dublin bus fleet. This has produced a carbon saving of 115,000 CO2e tonnes through the reuse of items sold in charity shops.

By shopping in a charity shop you save money, save waste and save the planet. You also support many amazing causes as our members’ shops raise vital funds for charities nationwide. Many charities have seen an increase in demand for their services during the pandemic so your support is even more important now.

Shop, donate and volunteer in your local charity shop. Visit www.charityretail.ie to find your local shop.