Featured Success Stories
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ThreadED is dedicated to changing people’s lives by providing scholarships to college students in need. Their goal is to help ease the burden of the cost of college while reducing our collective impact on the earth. The organization receives and sells high-quality donated clothing and accessories, which gives those items a “second life”, generates funds for financial aid, and diverts clothing from landfills. They call it Fashion For a Future.
ThreadED was founded in December 2014 by two friends, Laurel Sgan and Gail Harris. With the help of high school and college interns and volunteers, these two women currently manage the fundraising efforts for ThreadED out of their homes.
Affording college is an enormous challenge in our country. In 2013, about 85% of full time college students received some financial aid in order to attend. Last year, ThreadED was able to provide three scholarships to entering freshmen; this year they hope to double or even triple that number.
eBay for Charity Solution: Direct Selling
eBay was the natural solution for ThreadED’s donations and fundraising needs. They had no brick-and-mortar stores, nor were they affiliated with any organization that offered the space and location to support resale of their high-end inventory.
Occasionally the ThreadED team holds in-person sales in their homes which they promote through social media. These sales are both fundraisers and friendraisers. ThreadED’s eBay store and sales compliment these small events by providing a massive audience for its goods beyond the local community. According to Laurel, one of ThreadED’s co-founders, “We just wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for eBay and the ability to reach so many interested buyers.”
Additionally, ThreadED has found that the time between listing and selling on eBay is typically shorter than other online platforms. This is critical given the nonprofit’s need to move donations off their shelves to make room for fresh new items that they consistently receive from supporters.
eBay is currently ThreadED’s primary means of generating sales. Last summer, only eight months after selling their first item, the nonprofit was able to make a multi-year scholarship commitment to uAspire, a Boston-based national organization working on college affordability.
The first three “ThreadED Scholars” just completed their first semester of college. The scholarships helped to fill that final, challenging gap of the “family commitment” portion required in their financial aid package. For many students, this is the difference of being able to enroll and start their college education journey!
Funds raised on the eBay platform has also supported ThreadED’s local and online advertising efforts, marketing materials, and access to financial software. As sales volume increases, they plan to apply this incremental revenue towards staff salary and administrative support.
According to Laurel and Gail…
“First, don’t worry—the learning curve is very steep! It took us a while to get our first items on—researching pricing, taking good photos, figuring out mailing – but each sale teaches us more about maximizing revenue and suggests ways to streamline our processes.
“Second, experiment with auction vs. fixed price, pricing levels, free shipping or not. There are a lot of variables and our listings vary widely, so how we handle those decisions is getting smarter and easier each month.
“Third, consistently put the word out in your newsletters, Instagram, FB, etc. to generate awareness for your listings and as a way for supporters to show how they can participate in your fundraising efforts.
“Finally, with every eBay sales shipment, we include a short-and-sweet half-page note describing ThreadED and our mission. This has received a lot of positive feedback and support. We all need as many friends as we can get!”
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