Buying a T-shirt and deciding what charity to fund. It’s the new marketing frontier where anyone – from the passer-by to the regular sponsor as well as the “impulse buyer” – can help to finance psychological support for terminal patients and their families or to maintain a kindergarten for poor children. On 15 December last the Order of Malta’s first shop, “Malteserladen”, was opened in Berlin. Books, CDs, home accessories, and also T-shirts, dresses and coats – both new and used – are on sale at reasonable prices. Customers buy and then decide where their money should go.
Although charity shops are a regular feature – especially in Germany – the concept of marketing based on donations is innovative. The Order of Malta is also planning to set up other shops on the Berlin model in the rest of the country starting with Aix-la-Chapelle, Dortmund and Hanover.
“It’s the customer who decides the success of the Malteserladen,” explains Christoph Riedel, head of the German project. Riedel boasts a long experience in the sector which comes in useful for displaying the goods on sale. The shop, situated in the lively Kreuzberg district, covers an area of 200 square metres and has 35 volunteers of every age to assist the customers.
Thanks to its excellent relations with several clothing companies, Malteserladen – open from ten in the morning to six in the evening – also sells articles from last year’s collections and surplus stock. The aim is not only to raise funds, allowing buyers to decide where their money goes, but also to promote the Order of Malta’s social initiatives in Germany and abroad and to attract new volunteers.
The advertising industry supports the project by offering a free publicity campaign and posters.