Online Op-Shop for Charities
19 August 2014 at 10:30 am
A new online op-shop style concept, GiveShop, wants to tap into the burgeoning second-hand exchange market to give charities access to income from the sale of second-hand goods without having to set up their own shopfront or handle a single secondhand item.
The online presence comes just as Australia is about to celebrate National Op Shop Week 2014 being held from Sunday August 24 to Sunday August 31.
GiveShop is the brainchild of a young Melbourne entrepreneur Elliott Spiegel, who says the testing of the site has been encouraging becoming fully operational in the last month.
"Gumtree has valued the second-hand market at around $41 million, and our platform provides a marketplace where donors can donate to their favourite charity by posting the items they have lying around at home," Spiegel said.
"In short, you could say it's like eBay for Not for Profits.
"Many people like to shop at op shops and now they can also do it online."
Donors can donate items for sale to benefit a particular charity, through that charity's GiveShop landing page, or via the landing page of an individual or team they know that is inviting donations to sell on behalf of a specific charity.
"You can shop by organisation or by your friends. Buyer-donors can search by category of item or visit the page of a selected charity or individual to see what they have for sale,” Spiegel said.
"Online donations are generally quite small and the size of donations has been decreasing for a long time. Not for Profits have been investing for a long time in finding new ways to engage with the online audience, but monetising that relationship has been difficult."
Spiegel believes his new online giving platform will also provide Not for Profits with a powerful re-engagement strategy for existing donors who may have been dormant for some time.
"Not for Profits will be able to use GiveShop as a way to re-engage and activate donors in a new way," he said.
"You can only touch a donor so many times in a year, and using our platform will open up a new avenue for charities as we all have second-hand items lying around at home."
Spiegel said his service was complementary to online fundraising platforms such as GoFundraise and Every Day Hero.
"What differentiates us from other online fundraising platforms is that we are simply facilitating the donation, sale and allocation of funds from new and second-hand items," he said.
“Most people who wish to donate their secondhand goods usually give them to op shops or roadside collections.
"But not many charities have access to their own retail outlets or collection networks to collect and sell donated items, and the costs of running these can be high. GiveShop provides them with an online retail presence.
"I've had a lot of conversations with people about items that people or corporate partners have wanted to give to a Not for Profit but they haven't been able to accept them and monetise the offers."
Spiegel gave the example of a charity that was offered a donation of accommodation in a holiday house in France.
“They turned down the offer because it did have an avenue to monetise the gift,” he said.
Spiegel, who has a background in online digital marketing and software, self-funded the development of the GiveShop platform through investment from family and friends. He came up with the idea after hearing repeated stories about Not for Profits struggling to find ways to raise funds online and seeing "mountains of stuff" piled up outside op shops.
Spiegel said he also believed that some op shops were charging too much for items they had been given for free, because of needing to cover their overheads.
"I'm hoping that GiveShop can turn that around and provide all organisations with the same platform to sell items and raise funds at a fair market price," he said. "If buyers don't agree with the asking price, there is a facility for them to make a lower offer."
He hopes that people who currently give their pre-loved goods away on sites such as Zilch and Freecycle will see their potential value to charities and post them onto the GiveShop instead, as it means the seller and buyer are both making donations that ultimately benefit the nominated charity.
The social enterprise has the combination of promoting recycling as well as charitable giving.
"What I'll measure my results on is seeing it used across the Not for Profit sector as a platform for potentially regular giving and to be used in a way that all stakeholders will benefit," he said.
GiveShop will also be available to corporate donors, such as large retailers, wanting to actively support particular charities by donating and posting new goods for sale online.
Spiegel said to the best of his knowledge the GiveShop concept was unique in terms of its focus on "peer to peer selling", similar to eBay, without the need for handling by a third party.
"The donor is exchanging the item with the actual buyer; not the charity they are donating it to," he said.
National Op Shop week is a joint initiative of DoSomething! and the National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations (NACRO), in a bid to boost the stocks and sales of quality clothing and help the charities raise more funds for their work in the community.
Kerryn Caulfield, CEO of NACRO, said charity op shops were integral to the fabric of Australian society.
“Whether it is the volunteers that staff them, the diversity and inexpensive clothes they provide, or the opportunity to participate by donating, Australians love our charity op shops,” Caulfield said.
“We like the fact that the items we donate and the money raised from them will be put to good use.
“And for Australia’s charity recyclers, donations of quality, saleable clothing are essential to meet the ever growing demand for their community services.
“Every day, proceeds raised from the donated goods enable Australian charities to assist tens of thousands of people in need.”