Operating a thrift store is challenging. There are a myriad of different tasks that must take place everyday, in the right order, and as efficiently as possible in order to be (and remain) successful. To make it even more challenging, the team executing these tasks is often in flux, with new team members being added and seasoned teammates rolling off. When the pressure is on, it’s easy to narrow your focus to the exclusion of huge opportunities, particularly leveraging likeminded individuals from your community.
Identifying the Crowd
The vision of your thrift operation and the non-profit you support is magnetic. It’s one of the reason donors choose to give to you and customers choose to shop. It’s why your employees are willing to give 110% effort. And it’s the reason why you need to identify others in your community who share your vision.
KARM Stores supports Knox Area Rescue Ministries, a gospel-based homeless shelter that provides rescue and recovery services. Given its vision of restoring lives in Jesus’ name, local churches are a natural partner, for both the ministry and the thrift stores.
Who shares your passion for your vision? This crowd forms your cheering section. The next step is to make it easy for this crowd to participate alongside you and your organization.
Making It Easy
Human nature tilts towards maintaining the status quo, so how do you increase the chances of changing behavior? Convenience often trumps everything else. Find ways to make it easy for your crowd to work with you.
As a thrift organization, you provide a vital service of removing unwanted items from homes and businesses. Targeting the homes and businesses of your crowd to tell your shared vision and enabling them to donate to you is a great first step. This idea forms the foundation of Corners Of Your Field, a partnership program that delivers gift cards and leveraged by New 2 You Thrift Stores. Tracking every donor and their connection to a local community partner may be an extra step for you but makes it easy for that partner to continue encouraging the crowd to donate. And with regular communication to the community partner, you provide a regular reminder of how your shared vision is becoming a reality. (A tool like ThriftTrac makes both tracking and communicating easier.)
Volunteerism is another opportunity to harness the power of the crowd to fulfill your shared vision. You can remove many obstacles for your crowd to donate their time. Many community partners already encourage giving back through volunteer service. Collaborate with them to schedule a date, time and location for a volunteer group to serve, perhaps one that already overlaps a planned event, like a retreat or weekend of service.
Nurturing the Story
Partner engagement is not the task of a single, dedicated person in your organization. Every team member is in a position to tell the story and identify where your vision overlaps — with friends & family as well as with customers, donors, and existing volunteers. Don’t miss the opportunity to use every interaction to reinforce the story of the shared vision and to harness the power of the crowd for today, tomorrow and for days to come.