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Community and collaboration. Insight from the District Towns Gift Card on building your Scotland Loves Local Gift Card

The District Towns Gift Card launched in November 2020 for the towns of Falkirk, Denny, Stenhousemuir, Grangemouth and Bo’ness. The scheme was funded by the Towns and Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) Resilience and Recovery Fund, a £1m resilience and recovery project spearheaded by the Scottish Government and facilitated by Scotland’s Towns Partnerships.

Elaine Grant is the BID Manager and Stefanie Paterson is the Assistant BID Manager for Falkirk Delivers. They had this advice on launching your Scotland Loves Local Gift Card:

“Initially, the gift card was going to be for Falkirk. When the pandemic happened and the Resilience and Recovery Fund was announced, it was an ideal opportunity to extend the scheme out to Denny, Stenhousemuir, Grangemouth and Bo’ness.

“We onboarded businesses using our existing Facebook business group, as they were already engaged with Falkirk Delivers so we had that relationship to build on. The best way for us to get businesses to sign up to the gift card was to visit them in person and explain the benefits- that it’s free for them to be a part of and an easy way to bring new revenue in.  We had a huge stunt sized version of the District Towns Gift Card and would get photos of the business with the card when they signed up, encouraging the business to post about them joining the programme. The photos are also handy for ongoing promotion of the gift card. We now have over 130 businesses on board with the gift card.

“For corporate sales, it was often a case that a business or a group might have had a market stall with us initially, and from there we were able to bring them on board with the gift card. This was the case with both Waste Services and the Active Travel team. For example, Waste Services used the gift card as prizes in their competition for school children to design a bin lorry.

“A partnership with Falkirk Council and their Take the Right Route campaign, saw District Towns Gift Cards given to local people to encourage sustainable travel, so perhaps walking or cycling to work instead of taking the car. There are so many ways that local gift cards can be used right across a range of council departments, and that is something we are looking to increase in 2022.

“Voluntary organisations have also used the District Towns Gift Card in their activity. Love Falkirk is a community church with a mission to support families in need. They used the District Towns Gift Card to distribute funds to families, by using £20 District Towns Gift Cards. The great thing about them using a local gift card is it didn’t mark the family out in any way, so they could spend the funds with dignity in a wide variety of local businesses. When organisations partner with us, like Take the Right Route or Love Falkirk, our local press will cover the story with editorial coverage.

“Marketing wise and we’ve used a varied range of channels, including TV, radio and social media. Our Sky TV campaign was targeted to the Falkirk district and reached over 180,000 people. We also ran a YouTube campaign, and did a promotion with our local football club. The District Towns Gift Card is incredibly useful for promotions, so we’ll give away perhaps 40 x £5 gift cards as random acts of kindness. Even though many of our sales are local, we’ve also had orders from as far away as Australia.

“Our advice for other regions launching their own Scotland Loves Local Gift Card is to use any funding you are able to obtain to recruit a Love Local champion who can promote the gift card with businesses, customers and employers. Use your network to build relationships with local organisations who can use your gift card in varied ways and encourage all departments of your local authority to use the gift card in their projects. If your area is serious about helping small businesses, then the gift card is the way to do it, and with the backing of the local authority, anything is possible.”