Retail logistics company Optor found in a study that 5 billion pounds of retail returns end up in landfills every year. On January 2020, UPS is expecting 1.9 million holiday returns, a record-breaking volume.
With these types of statistics, it’s important for ecommerce businesses to take action.
In October 2018, ShipBob announced its partnership with giveNkind, a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that matches unwanted inventory with nonprofits. This partnership has allowed ShipBob merchants an opportunity to easily donate returned, canceled, or surplus inventory for those in need. As of today, brands who store inventory with ShipBob have donated a total of $790,743.96 worth of goods.
Emily Petway is the founder of giveNkind. If you’ve been fortunate enough to meet her, she brings sunshine to any room. Due to her contagious, positive attitude, Emily has helped raise awareness around “purposeful” giving.
Recently, Emily gave a Tedx Talk on how we can all give better and with more purpose:
3 benefits of donating unsellable inventory to giveNkind
If you’re an ecommerce brand looking to donate inventory, giving to giveNkind comes with several benefits:
1. It’s cost-effective
giveNkind is a completely free service. Instead of spending money throwing inventory away, giveNkind provides a more cost-effective option with no fees associated with donating. Businesses can also write off donations during tax season.
2. Your products are “purposefully” given
It’s a chance to get your products into the hands of those who can use it the most. giveNkind is a nonprofit for nonprofits. Through giveNkind’s web-based, searchable database and contact platform, nonprofit partners can share their wish lists and search for specific items.
3. It’s a greener option
Instead of simply throwing away your inventory (and paying for it), giveNkind provides a more sustainable option by giving the items to those who need it. This way, you’re given an opportunity to do good for the environment and make a difference in a person’s life.
Q&A with giveNkind founder, Emily Petway
To learn more about giveNkind’s partnership with ShipBob, read our Q&A with Emily below:
Jon: Between your mission, purpose, and vision, I noticed a unique common thread: The notion that this kind of donating is equally impactful for the person giving as it is for the person receiving. Was this the genesis of how giveNkind came to be?
Emily: Prior to returning home with my family to Chicago, I was a high school teacher outside of Atlanta. I had amazing students, some of whom worked jobs to help support their family. In talking with a particular student who was always studying, working, or helping to care for her siblings, I asked her if she was going to the school homecoming dance. When she told me that she wanted to go but couldn’t afford the dress, I was saddened that this excellent student was having to miss out on a night of being a kid and having fun.
That’s when I found Becca’s Closet, a nation-wide organization that collects and distributes formalwear to students in need free of charge. Starting with 1 box of 100 dresses, my chapter grew over 7 years to over 3,000 dresses to serve students all across the Atlanta metro area.
At one point, we were given a free-standing, 1,200-foot commercially zoned house at no cost — under one condition: We needed to keep up the lawn so that we could meet the city code. If the grass got too long and we received a violation, we would have to move. It became very important for our organization to find a free lawnmower. Through a free repurposing site, I monitored the posts to await a lawnmower offer. There was a lawnmower offered, but, being in class teaching at that time, I missed the post. In the first-come, first-serve system, the mower was claimed by a man who needed an extra mower for his lake house.
What was a convenience to one individual was a vital need to our nonprofit’s operations.
This was the point when I realized that nonprofits needed a platform to post their needs and a place for donors to show nonprofits what they have to give. Nonprofits would be the only recipients of the goods, making sure donations were going to those who need them the most.
Jon: From there, how did giveNkind begin and grow?
Emily: I moved back to Chicago with my family in the summer of 2012 and began the organizing documents for giveNkind. Years later, we developed our site, built 100% by volunteers, including service grants from JP Morgan Chase, University of Illinois Business Consulting MBA alumni, and the team of volunteers who meet weekly to work on the project.
We’re the first organization of our kind.
We’re a registered 501(c)(3); we know nonprofits because we are a nonprofit.
Our site allows registered 501c3 charities to receive items, so donors know they are helping organizations that need it the most. Individual donors and nonprofits connect directly, allowing nonprofits to make sure the donor gift fits their needs best and allows donors to see how their gift impacts the community.
Jon: As our businesses have grown, our relationship has evolved. What can you say about staying agile as a nonprofit?
Emily: Regardless of what part of the nonprofit sector a charity covers, we’re all looking to leave the world a better place. This means that by nature, nonprofits are always growing and changing to meet the needs of those they serve. Even if the need remains the same over time, nonprofits must be creative to stay sustainable and bring more attention to their cause.
The needs, expectations, and even the ways in which nonprofits communicate with clients and donors is ever-changing. The most important assets a nonprofit can have — beyond the ever-present need for funding — are flexibility, persistence, and belief in people and their cause.
Jon: Something I’m personally passionate about is supporting local causes in the neighborhoods ShipBob operates in. Which groups and organizations does giveNkind benefit?
Emily: giveNkind currently has 51 registered nonprofit partners. Their missions vary from transitional housing, to supporting veterans, to animal fostering, to education programs, and so many more. These organizations are all in the Chicagoland area and we’re looking to continue to grow our network.
The only requirement to become a giveNkind partner is being a registered 501(c)3 charitable organization — this allows organizations to give donors receipts for their tax records. You can learn more about all of the organizations we serve on our Nonprofit Community Partners page.
Jon: What are the most needed items?
Emily: With our nonprofit partners covering a wide range of causes, which means the need for donations is diverse. While many organizations share similar wishlist items, such as personal care products and school supplies, I want to emphasize that there are also less obvious needs.
It’s important for donors to remember that while an item may no longer be useful for you, it may be just what an organization needs.
giveNkind is always looking for individuals and companies willing to help. If you are a current ShipBob client and would like to donate to giveNkind, click here to learn more.
Here are more ways you can get involved:
- Host a collection drive for one item or adopt the wish list of a nonprofit partner whose cause you support.
- Spread the word: Communicate with nonprofits and donors and let them know about giveNkind.
- Donate funds to giveNkind. For every dollar donated, nonprofits receive so much more value in donated, in-kind gifts.
- Reach out to Emily! If you have questions about the organization, hosting an item drive or adopting a wish list, or an item you have to give that you would like to talk about, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.