Archive for the ‘Not-for-Profit Resale’ Category

Seriously. This is a universal problem. Every nonprofit group has seen their pool of willing and able volunteers diminish. But if yours is a nonprofit resale shop

you might be getting desperate!

Some of the problem, might be “the people who volunteer are simply getting older and can’t put as much energy into volunteering as they used to.”  Or it could be that with all the pressures on working-age folk, like student loans to repay, people haven’t got the time to volunteer. They’re being Uber drivers or part-timing somewhere. If your area’s pool of potential volunteers cry

“I’d love to volunteer but I haven’t got the TIME!”

show them that they can, indeed, fit volunteering into their lives. After all, what with the child-bearing years growing steadily upward*, and what with more work-at-home choices in jobs**, one could almost argue that 25-50 year-olds have more available-to-participate time than ever.

I believe the key to getting volunteers to be, well, more volunteer-y is to do the same thing you do to motivate shoppers…

tell (and SHOW) them the WIIFM***.

Your message cannot be just that your cause needs helpers… it’s the “What’s In It For Me” factor you need to present. Show, tell, cajole potential volunteers into realizing that heck, volunteering is not just the right thing to do… it’s downright rewarding.

What are time-pressed adults yearning for and what can volunteering with you give them?

  • Sociability: they can perhaps make new friends while volunteering. Belonging: volunteering makes a person feel like they are part of the solution to the problem. And Connection: Making contacts with like-minded individuals whose goals match theirs.
  • And of course there’s always Fun: Whether it’s doing window displays, helping a family decide on a couch, or testing to see if a small appliance works before it’s placed for sale.
  • Another thing that potential volunteers might be yearning to do, is to use their skills. He used to be on the faculty of the business school? Maybe he’s a good match for your Volunteer Coordinator position. She retired from owning a jewelry store? Perfect for your Appraisal Crew. Younger people might be interested in practising newly-learned talents, adding to their real-life experience, or even adding to their resume or college application.

More ways to lure volunteers in:

  • Play up the perks. You get to see, first, all the amazing goodies that we receive! Always yearned to redecorate? Help us set displays to showcase our merchandise! 
  • Overcome shyness. Yes, believe it or not, there exist people who support your cause but aren’t gregarious. They most definitely have no wish to become sales staff. Well, do you have things they can do behind the scenes? Price incoming? Do internet research? Maybe health is an issue? Are there tasks they can contribute from home… washing and ironing, polishing silver? Letting the public know there’s more than one way to volunteer might require some imagination on your part, but could be super rewarding.
  • Overcome their fear of over-commitment. Many potential volunteers wouldn’t mind spending some hours in your shop, but they can’t promise to come in every week, at a given time, on a given day. If your business can work with casual hours, let them know you’re happy to see them whenever (and keep in contact, so well-meaning but overbooked volunteers don’t forget how much fun they have when they come in!)

And once you have them, keep them enthusiastic and productive:

  • Make sure they know how much they are appreciated. Surprise nibbles in the break room, little holiday gifts, public praise are real motivators. As are yearly or semi-yearly certificates they can take home. It goes without saying, doesn’t it, that a birthday card will be in their home mailbox every year?
  • Sponsor off-campus get-togethers. Not only will even something as simple as a Dutch-treat breakfast be appreciated, but they will get to interact with fellow volunteers whom they normally don’t work with.
  • Let them choose. If your charity raises money used as scholarships or grants… make sure your Board of Directors has one segment of that process that is decided by a vote of the volunteers. There’s nothing more powerful than volunteers working to raise funds because they want to see your charity help renovate the old theater or give money towards a new playground.

* “The average age of first-time mothers [in 2018] is 26, up from 21 in 1972, and for fathers it’s 31, up from 27.” From here.

** “Regular work-at-home, among the non-self-employed population, has grown by 140% since 2005, nearly 10x faster than the rest of the workforce or the self-employed.” From here.

*** Our Resaler’s Glossary defines this term.

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Does your marketplace include a segment of the local population who disdain to use your consignment services, who feel it is beneaath them to “sell” their “old clothes”? But you suspect they could have wonderful things that your customers would buy, and that disconnect seems insurmountable to you?

If you’re dealing with folks who feel like (more…)

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Every business needs a clever, quick tag line… and every resale business could use one that covers both aspects of the shop!

Kudos to St. Vincent de Paul USA for this one!

What’s a tagline you ask? It’s a (more…)

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You know how you sometimes get whole collections of things in, and you’re at a loss as to how to group lots of little things, how to price, even how to tag? Like this (more…)

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One of my favorite bumper stickers is “If you can read this, thank a teacher.” So true! And most of us don’t get the opportunity to thank teachers nearly enough.

Well, enough of that. Here’s a quick, easy, and heart-warming way to extend a helping hand to all those hard-working folks, and to show them that shopping resale adds up!


A consignment, resale, and thrift shop promotion saluting teachers.

For hundreds more promotional ideas and tips especially for the resale industry, click the pic.

Creating a graphic like this (I used picmonkey.com), to use on your web site, blog, social media channels, and to print as in-store signs, posters, and window messages, takes only a few minutes. (Naturally, you’ll add your shop logo and info to your creation.)

Add in some time to go buy a gift certificate to your local school supply shop (who might even give you a sizable discount in exchange for a sponsorship!) , and you have an almost-instant news-worthy event.

Consider this your homework tonight!

For more tips and specific ways to make your promotion continue to earn your business fame and fortune beyond the event, read your copy of Resale’s BEST Promotions from the Too Good to be Threw Products for the Professional Resaler.


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