Charis Shop platform drives significant business growth
At Charis, a surge in users of its online Charis Shop which was launched in 2020 has led to an explosion in business growth. CEO Graham Ayres (pictured © Charis) explains how the company is harnessing the impact of their new platform to help housing providers deliver hardship support rapidly and efficiently.
If you want to have a clear illustration of how the restrictions of covid, and the positive impact of technology have influenced business, the growth at Charis is a prime example. In 2020 the company had a dozen long standing major customers and a healthy turnover of £6 million. Charis had worked hard to develop a strong and proven reputation, primarily in the utility sector, working closely with energy providers to ensure they met their obligatory Ofgem requirements in supporting vulnerable customers.
The launch of the Charis Shop in 2020 was a deliberate move to work both within and beyond the utilities sector, building on Charis expertise to help those in need by applying creativity, care and compassion, harnessed to the application of a creative technology-based solution. The new virtual Charis Shop enabled organisations to easily self-serve the distribution of a broad range of funds, vouchers and services in a way which was fast, efficient and cost effective.
Today that Charis client count exceeds 650, and turnover last year was £22million. For a company that has been operating for 20 years, that level of growth in three years is striking, and has enabled Charis to make further significant investments in their own bespoke software solutions, alongside the development and integration of more specialised third-party software solutions, for their complex fully managed schemes.
For those who are not aware, Charis distributes funds, grants, products and services for a wide range of different businesses, working in partnership with utility companies, housing associations, local authorities, citizens advice and charities. It is also beginning to make its way into the healthcare sector, with solutions that ease the administrative burden, particularly in discharge schemes, and ultimately help end beneficiaries receive the urgent help and support they need quickly and cost effectively.
Image © Charis
Within the housing sector, the company already works extensively with more than 150 social housing providers such as Clarion, Sovereign and Aspire, as well as local authority housing providers across all UK regions, distributing financial awards, a wide range of cash and retail vouchers and large energy efficient household appliances.
The last three years have proven to Charis the value of its role as an effective administrator, capable of providing a cost-effective extension to an organisation’s back-office. Charis not only specialises in understanding the statutory demands placed on regulated organisations, but can also design socially responsible solutions to distribute financial help on behalf of a wide range of other businesses and charities.
The Charis Shop has enabled the company to translate its own core objectives into more flexible technology solutions that deliver to scale. The variety of projects being supported demonstrates that a multi-faceted approach is needed, to ensure no sectors of society are marginalised or forgotten when it comes to receiving every penny of available support that is out there. This is because every beneficiary of every product or service Charis provides is living their own struggles, driven by the reality of the cost-of-living crisis, vulnerability or genuine hardship.
Images © Shutterstock - Studio Romantic
Charis recognises that housing association partners are often at the front line of experiencing the range of challenges and issues that their tenants face every day. From the struggle to cover household energy bills, to having access to hot food after a stay in hospital, the needs are wide and varied, but never underestimated in terms of the effect on that individual’s emotional and physical wellbeing.
While Charis is proud of its legacy in grants and funds administration, the future presents itself with the opportunity to blend its new Shop platform with its thoughtfully developed personal service. This blended approach is helping the housing sector optimise all available hardship funds, to facilitate successful distribution and to reduce the pressures of the cost of living on their tenants.