by Radiyah Shakur
Hilary Blume is a woman with million pound ideas and a charitable heart. With over thirty-five years in the voluntary sector, Blume is an expert in her field, instituting new ways of generating funds for charities.
Establishing the Charities Advisory Trust (CAT) twenty-five years ago, with funding from the Home Office, Blume continues to direct the registered aid organization that provides impartial advice on trading for other charities. Much of the Trust’s work strives to tackle the difficulties and challenges charities have in generating income with limited budgets, as well as preserve ethical concerns. The Trust is self-financing and begins every project by ensuring its sustainability.
One of CAT’s most popular initiatives has been Card Aid, established and set-up as a trading subsidiary twenty years ago. Card Aid is a sustainable and ethical income producing scheme, manufacturing Christmas cards for charity organizations. It aims to improve the image and quality of charity cards, as well as advise charities on over-ordering. Additionally, it provides affordable printing services and custom printed messages, and provides charities a greater selling platform to maximize profits. To date, there are about 40 Card Aid shops selling Christmas cards on behalf of 300 charities. It also supplies customized cards to over 1,000 companies. Not to forget, Card Aid itself is a charity, on average donating 40% of each card's cover price to the named charity, with the church or community group that hosts the shop receiving 10%, and the trust taking the rest.
Blume’s visionary and innovative spirit has not stopped there. She launched Good Gifts and its accompanying catalogue in the autumn of 2003. It is a revolutionary idea offering the public hand-selected gifts of a different nature. There are gifts for every occasion and for everyone, but also practical gifts for people in developing countries. In the last three years, 3,000 midwives throughout the developing world have been given bikes. In Rwanda, 2,000 war widows have been given goats; and 3,000 African bee-keepers have received equipment. Britain has also received its fare share of gifts, increasing its beauty with the planting of thousands of trees. These are just a few examples of the gifts, but it does not illustrate the immense good it has done in improving the productivity and simplicity of many people’s daily lives.
CAT’s other initiatives and projects include the opening of the prize-winning Green Hotel in Myshore, South India as a model of sustainable tourism. It is also the site for the Trust’s annual Development from the Inside programme that trains students interested in international development and NGO work. The CAT also runs a graduate internship programme, where Hilary Blume has trained over 1000 people in their first jobs in the voluntary sector.
Hilary Blume has published books on fundraising and charity trading. The Charities Advisory Trust also makes donations totaling around £500,000 annually to a range of causes, such as tree planting; homelessness; peace and reconciliation projects and arts access.