IWITOT 2020 Win­ner: Help Refugees pop-up shop, Choose Love

Exhibited by
Megan Townshend
August 13, 2020
Medium of Communication
Charity shop
Target Audience
All donors
Type of Charity
Refugee support
Country of Origin
United Kingdom
Date of first appearance

SOFII’s view

In early 2020, in conjunction with our friends at Open and Nikki Bell and Simon Scriver of Fundraising Everywhere, SOFII held the first-ever virtual edition of our world-famous event I Wish I’d Thought of That (IWITOT). 

Of course, the coronavirus pandemic prevented us from doing our usual live conference. So we acted fast and went completely online. On April 21st, 17 wonderful speakers presented the campaigns they wished they’d thought of to an audience of over 700 attendees worldwide. Quite frankly, it was epic and our audience really did fall in love with fundraising, all over again!

Every presentation was wonderful, but there had to be one winner, and it was Marie Curie’s Megan Townshend who won the highest percentage of audience votes. Megan, who was also one of our three outstanding audition winners, celebrated the magnificent pop-up charity shop Choose Love run by Help Refugees. It is a campaign that’s so brilliant, it already features as a case study on SOFII

Below you can view Megan’s superb presentation, and hear her own insights on why this pop-up shop has been so engaging and effective. We think you’ll agree Megan is a worthy IWITOT 2020 winner.

IWITOT Virtual 2020 - Winner Megan Townshend presents Choose Love

Summary / objectives

Megan Townshend of Marie Curie wishes she’d thought of… the Choose Love Christmas pop up shop. It just might be the only shop where you go in, buy real products to help refugees … and then leave with nothing.


Choose Love are the retail arm of Help Refugees, a charity that was formed in 2015 by a group of friends who wanted to help refugees in Calais. Fast forward four years and they have successfully helped over one million people, recruited 30,000 volunteers and supported over 100 projects helping refugees across Europe and the Middle East.

Their Choose Love pop-up charity shop opened just off Carnaby Street in London on 23rd November 2017 (Black Friday) and was open until 24th December. The idea was simple: ‘Shop your heart out, leave with nothing, feel great about it’.

Special characteristics

This unique shop contained lots of essential items for refugees ranging from as little as £3.00 to £650, which was the cost to buy the entire shop.

Donors/buyers were encouraged to go through the shop, choose the items they want, pay and then leave with nothing. Help Refugees would then donate those products to refugees in Europe and the Middle East, and the donor left the shop empty handed. Simple, but so effective.

Why did it work so well?

1. It was profitable. The shop raised a LOT of money in a short space of time.

2. It was engaging and educational. The shop made people connect to the cause in a very unique way.

3. It created a buzz and got people talking. This shop was so successful at spreading awareness of the charity and creating a movement of supporters.


The first year it opened, in 2017, the shop was open for just one month. But the pop-up shop and its online equivalent raised £750,000. In 2018, they doubled this and raised a staggering £1.5 million. This year, they also attracted matched funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and it was agreed that, if Choose Love raised £200,000 by Christmas, the Foundation would match it. Within three days they had smashed this target! 

Influence / impact

In 2019 Choose Love opened another store in LA as well as in New York and London. This attracted even more celebrities to the shop and the cause, because they all shared it on their social media pages, in turn engaging even more people.

In fact, the charity and its ambassadors got the message out to over 200 million people! They created a cult like following, an army of people inspired to help. 

But best of all they empowered them to choose how they wanted to do it … all whilst wearing incredible t-shirts.

Stay tuned for more great presentations from IWITOT Virtual 2020, coming your way on SOFII soon. 

Several high-profile figures got involved with the campaign.
The shop was beautifully-designed and easy to browse through.
The pop-up shop was engaging and impactful.
Items in the shop highlighted the essential needs of refugees.