Good Vibes: The FPA’s Novel Funding Strategy

The UK Sexual Health charity The Family Planning Association (FPA) is eighty-five years old this year, but its decision to broaden its funding opportunities by opening up an online shop specialising in sex toys proves that age is no barrier to experimentation.

Set up in 1930, the FPA originally provided clinical services to the people of Britain when the NHS did not, but over time it has broadened its range to include the provision of education materials, lobbying for abortion and contraception rights, and leading campaigns to improve equality in sexual health for marginalised groups.

In these more recent and austere years, the charity has been forced to close some of its services: the sexual health advice line (excluding Northern Ireland) closed in 2014, and has remained so due to funding deficits. Nevertheless, the charity has decided to embark on a bold and ambitious venture, entering into the world of on-line shopping. In partnership with Rolesar Limited, it has opened FPA Pleasures.

In the broader sense, charities supplementing their donation income through the sale of new goods is not new, and usually these are themed around the charity’s mission, such as the plethora of boat-related gifts in the Lifeboats’ launch stations-cum-gift shops, or supportive of their ideals, so the the idea of the FPA branching into sex toys is at least following a well-trodden path.

Whether the venture is successful or not remains to be seen. To pardon the expression, there is stiff competition in this market from LoveHoney, and high-street purveyor of cut-price perversion Anne Summers to name but too. What makes the FPAPleasures shop stand out however, is its visible commitment to inclusiveness, a reflection of its values as a charity. There are images of older models and models demonstrating same sex relationships, which gives the store-front a welcoming feel for all. A short stroll through the menus reveals a advice for those who have disabilities, including non-physical ones.

How much income from the site will be generated remains to be seen, but if you’re interested in helping the FPA make it through the next eighty-five years, a treat for yourself via FPAPleasures might be a helpful move.