So here’s the deal…
As you may or may not know, Cross and Crown Mission has a clothing store that is apart of a ministry called, “Rebuilding the Walls”. Through this ministry the money that is raised through the store (by way of clothing and other donated items that cost anywhere from .25 cents to 25.00 dollars) several individuals and families are supported. A few women and their families from the neighborhood are actually employed by the profits from the clothing store.
Each and every item that is in the clothing store comes by way of donation. For instance, there is an individual from the church that I attend who brings some donations that are collected throughout the weeks and brings them to us at Cross and Crown. We have one other church that has a donations closet where people from the church will bring donations from their home, workplace ect. on Sundays and Wednesdays and store them in a closet. Then, generally, every 2 or 3 weeks Ron and I will go in our 15 passenger van to pick up the donations at their location.
Once the items have been taken to the Cross and Crown store, several of the women and other volunteers sift through all the items and price things accordingly. Clothing items, yard supplies, Halloween costumes, diapers, older tv’s, puppets….you name it, it’s been donated. Most things that people donate are things that they have either decided aren’t worth their time and effort to sell on their own or are of no value to them. But, what we have discovered is that once people have been educated on how their donations generate money for a ministry and/or project they tend to donate items that they otherwise wouldn’t (i.e. electronics, appliances, nicer clothing items and other more valuable items).
The idea that we are trying to build off of is an idea that has come about due, partially, to the tougher economic times. As we all know, the economy has struggled and therefore people, rightfully, become much tighter with their money. They spend less and they give less. We, because of our 501(c)3 non-profit status, have also been greatly impacted by the stresses of the economy and people giving less. We have experienced a decline in moneys given but haven’t necessarily seen as a great of a decline by way of item donations. Therefore, we have decided that we might have a greater opportunity to raise funds in the form of item donations.
The last couple months we have been experimenting with some of the more valuable donations, such as, electronics, new/unworn clothes and larger items that we physically don’t have space for in the clothing room. For example, some of the items we have held back recently include a GPS, a digital picture frame, some computer networking items, a pool table and an air compressor. These are each examples of items that if we were to place in the clothing room, chances are, people from the neighborhood either wouldn’t be willing to pay for or we are unwilling to price at their real value.
The experiment we have been working with is placing these types of items on Ebay and Craigslist. To this point we have started each and every item we have put on Ebay at .99 cents and let its’ value determine itself. Recently we sold a collection of 10-12 bicycling t-shirts, some new and some used, on Ebay and made over $100.00. Whereas, if we would have sold them in the Cross and Crown store they would have each been sold for no more than $2.00 a piece meaning that we would have made no more than $20.00 total. And, the best part is, this money is then directly recycled back into, “Rebuilding the Walls’, and, hopefully, will do well enough to fund some of the youth expenses at Rock Island.
The pool table that someone donated to us is not something that is generally donated to us. But, because they were familiar with how we sell things on Ebay and Craigslist and how the money received from the sale is to benefit a ministry, they were willing to donate the pool table.
To this point, we have collected 20-25 items through various donations that we have deemed valuable enough to sell online. Through this we have generated a few hundred dollars. The way we look at it is, that’s a few hundred dollars less that someone has to give financially to Cross and Crown or that we, as staff, have to raise.
Below are pictures of a recent venture Ron, myself and 4 of the Rock Island youth took to Falls Creek in order to deliver the pool table that someone donated to us which we listed on Craigslist. We decided to use the opportunity as a work/play experience for the kids.
A group at Falls Creek found our listing online, offered to buy the table and then offered some additional funds if we were willing to deliver the table to them. We made enough money off of the sale to pay for all travel expenses and supplies, lunch and a future trip later on this summer.
The Ebay/Craigslist experiment also has some long term potential for the kids. We think it serves as a great learning experience/skill-set for them if they choose to use it later on down the road.
If you or someone you know is interested in hearing more about this new venture, please let us know. Also, if you or someone you know has an item or items they would like to contribute towards this cause, don’t hesitate to contact us ( firstname.lastname@example.org or 232-7696). We even do pickups for large items!