Determined to address the gap between financial aid and the total costs of a college education, two friends opened an eBay business to raise scholarship funding. Five years later, the duo has provided essential student funding and ecommerce internships to dozens of young people—all while driving circular commerce.

Product Used

Direct Selling

Objectives

Acquire Donors

Location

Newtonville, MA

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ThreadED

About ThreadED

ThreadED: Fashion for a Future changes people’s lives by providing scholarships to college students in need. Its goal is to lower the financial barriers to a college degree and reduce our collective impact on the earth. The organization sells high-quality donated clothing and accessories, which gives those items a second life, generates funds for financial aid, and diverts clothing from landfills. Also, ThreadED runs a robust summer internship program for high school and college students to learn about e-commerce, social media, and nonprofit work. They call it Fashion for a Future.

 

Fundraising Need

Affording college is an enormous challenge. In 2017, about 85% of full-time college students needed some financial aid in order to enroll. ThreadED scholarships are currently helping to fill the final, challenging gap between financial aid packages and the total cost of attendance. For many students, this is the difference between being able to enroll and start their college education journey or not.

Since 2014, ThreadED has been able to provide 23 scholarships to entering freshmen and has also supported intensive college mentoring services in the Boston area.

 

eBay for Charity Solution: Direct Selling

eBay is a 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.
 
eBay is one of ThreadED’s most successful and consistent means of generating sales. In addition, the ThreadED team now holds quarterly pop up sales, which they promote through social media. They use eBay’s Always Open 24/7 colorful promotional materials to keep ThreadED top of mind throughout the year. ThreadED’s eBay store and sales compliment these 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 usually shorter than other online selling platforms. This is critical given the nonprofit’s need to move donations off their shelves to make room for fresh new items that they regularly receive.

 

Impact

In 2019, ThreadED named its 23rd scholarship recipient and 23rd intern. The very first group of “ThreadED Scholars” are now seniors at universities in New England. This academic year, 2019-20, the nonprofit is also running pilot programs at three universities to gauge enthusiasm for donation drives and high-quality resale on campus.

Funds raised on the eBay platform has also supported the nonprofit’s local and online advertising efforts, intern program, marketing materials, salary support, and access to financial software.

 

Learnings

Laurel and Gail offer the following advice:

“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, consistently put the word out in your newsletters, Instagram, Facebook, etc. to generate awareness for your listings and as a way for supporters to show how they can participate in your fundraising efforts.

Third, with every eBay sales shipment, we include a short-and-sweet 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!

Finally, it’s obvious but the more you post, the more you sell.  Even adding five items a week makes a difference”.

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