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How to Keep Donations Coming In To Your Thrift Store

by | Jul 1, 2023

Donations have the potential to be the lifeblood of your thrift store.  Do everything in your power to maximize the number of donations to your store and your business will be that much more likely to succeed.  Below, we provide a look at helpful strategies to keep donations coming in to your thrift store.

Cultivating Community Relationships 

Thrift stores thrive on community ties.  The relationships you build with members of the community go a long way in encouraging donations.  Alternatively, a thrift store owner or manager who remains in a social silo and refuses to “press the flesh” will receive minimal, if any, donations.  

Make a concerted effort to establish inroads with local businesses, community organizations and educational institutions.  Schools at all levels of education have extra pieces of furniture, supplies, equipment and other sundries that can be sold at your thrift store.  Plenty of business owners would be happy to donate unnecessary items to your thrift store rather than put them out to the curb for garbagemen to pick up.

Search the web for a list of your local community events on a weekly basis.  Attend those events in-person or sponsor such events and you’ll raise awareness of your thrift store’s existence.  Continue to heighten awareness of your store and you’ll keep donations coming in that you can sell for 100% profit.

Implementing Effective Donation Marketing 

Online platforms including social media are essential for promoting your thrift store.  The bottom line is people, businesses and schools won’t be inclined to think of your thrift store when they have items they no longer need or desire unless they are aware that the store exists.  

Publicize your thrift store’s address and phone number in all marketing conducted online.  Add your store’s contact information to offline material as well.

Streamlining Donation Processes 

Make it easy for locals to donate items to your thrift store and you’ll receive a steady influx of drop-offs that you can flip without spending a penny but for marketing.  Streamlining the donation process requires offering donors convenient and easily accessible locations where items can be dropped off.  Add a collection center that serves as the hub of your business and you’ll receive that many more donations.  

It is a mistake to accept every item people and businesses are willing to donate to your thrift store.  Make the guidelines for accepted items perfectly clear in your marketing efforts and website, communicating the requirements for item condition before accepting them.  Go to the extent of pre-filling receipts and coordinating drop-off drives to encourage locals to give back to the community and you’ll deep donations coming in.

TJ Bandiera, a manager with Triangle ReStores, comments, “The thing that I like about Thriftcart is when something sells, the system also knows what percentage discount it’s sold at. So I actually used the metrics in two ways. So when you go in the back room in price, the system, if you click on a sofa, it’ll give you pricing options, like a range…the first step that we did was we said we have to standardize how everybody is pricing and Thriftcart provides us to be able to create a barcode, so like, pricing barcodes for all of our items. So when it goes to the register, it can be scanned.”

Bandiera continues, “We originally would have categories.  There’s a lot of nice reports inside of Thriftcart. I probably run 50 Thriftcart reports a day, you know. But there’s, I mean, I literally, I live my whole life inside Thriftcart.”

Showing Appreciation to Donors 

A simple “thank you” after receiving a donation will go a long way toward encouraging that party to donate additional items.  Express your gratitude in-person and on the web in both the private and public spheres.  Share success stories highlighting donations and you’ll build an unstoppable social momentum.  It is this momentum that will inspire others to make additional donations to your thrift store.

Engaging Volunteers 

The most successful thrift stores operate with both paid employees and volunteers.  Recognize the fact that there are people in the community willing to volunteer at your thrift store and engage them without delay.  

Continue to recruit dedicated volunteers to help with donations, providing incentives along the way and you’ll build a team of inspired locals willing to continue donating their time and effort for the greater good.

Fostering Donor Loyalty 

Donor loyalty is imperative for thrift store success.  Donors are that much more likely to be loyal if they have a strong relationship with your thrift store.  Such relationships encourage repeat donations.  The challenge lies in building a rapport to create relationships.  Communication at specific intervals will remind potential and existing donors that your thrift store values their donations.  

It is also in your interest to develop a donor loyalty program complete with rewards that incentivize regular contributors to donate more items when available.  The positive reinforcement for such donations does not have to be significant.  Even minor rewards will encourage regular contributors to continue making donations.

Craig Pedersen the Operations Director of Hope Gospel Mission, states, “We have tens of thousands of customers in our frequent shopper program that ThriftCart helped us set up, and we see their buying habits and we see how often they want to come back. Just because of the experience that they get there that they can’t get at a big box or an online retailer.  They’re voting with their wallet every moment they check out.

“And by using the data that ThriftCart is capturing, we can adjust our prices very specifically and we have four different stores in four different parts of the market, and individually, each of those stores have set points where that sell through ratio is appropriate.

Pedersen continues, “We use ThriftCart and the barcodes and the reports that we’ve built with you to look at when things sell. And if it’s selling too quickly because they’re buying it to resell at a great profit, we’re gonna slowly increase the price exactly at two or three or four dollars in clothing or in books or in the household goods.” 

Keep the Donations Coming in With the Assistance of ThriftCart

You and your thrift store team have the agency necessary to keep donations coming in.  Follow the tips detailed above and you’ll inspire local residents, business owners, teachers and school administrators to make donations.  Seize every opportunity to establish relationships, invest in marketing and maintain a robust online presence.

Above all, it is in your interest to implement the strategies detailed above with a helping hand.  Recognize you can’t do it all by your lonesome and obtain assistance from ThriftCart.  ThriftCart’s specialty point-of-sale (POS) system includes pickup scheduling to accommodate donors on their preferred day and time.  Our POS system, scheduling and other features are consolidated into a single convenient platform for thrift store owners like you.  

Give our software a chance at your thrift store and you will quickly find it empowers you to manage sales as well as donations better than would be possible without a technological advantage.  Our tech helps you establish ties with your local community, schedule donation pickups and track sales.  

Reach out to us today to find out more about how the ThriftCart technology can help your thrift store maximize donations and the bottom line.  You can contact our friendly team members by phone at (385) 220-8892 or by email at sales@thriftcart.com.