When you’re collecting piles of items for different charities but you don’t have a warehouse, where do you put them?
How do you make sure they’re good enough quality?
This is the story of how GIVIT’s unique Virtual Warehouse was created from my kitchen table…
When I started GIVIT I remember I only had a few charities requesting items, and I would carefully put their requests on the GIVIT website. It was so exciting in the beginning!
I was so thrilled that charities were requesting items, and that people were seeing these requests and then wanting to give them exactly what they needed. I was very fulfilled as a matchmaker of THINGS!
What surprised me though, was that there were a growing number of people who really wanted to donate a large amount of items, which charities hadn’t specifically asked for.
I was a militant giver, so I only wanted people to donate the items charities actually needed – nothing more – but how could I let all these beautiful items go?
There were donors relocating homes and offering such incredible items.
As the generosity flooded in, I started manually emailing my 15 or so registered charities the list of amazing donations on offer, and they loved it. My system was easy – it was first in best dressed!
I enjoyed the process very much but sometimes if it was a large donation (for example 10 boxes of clothing or 50 pairs of joggers), a charity might need a few of these items but not all.
Often, they wanted to split the donation with another charity. I recall one large donation of toys which was split between several charities and there would have been 20 emails sorting it all out!
I started spending a lot of my time emailing charities about the donations people had generously offered, and then sorting out multiple bulk donations with them. This was very time intensive and as I became more and more absorbed… I started to neglect the house work a little.
My husband Glen was frustrated that GIVIT was no longer automated (and the growing pile of laundry). You see, I originally created GIVIT to automatically match donations to requests. We are online matchmakers!
On the website there was a page of items requested by charities. When a donor clicked on a request they could fill out their details and offer to pledge the item needed. Then, an email was automatically sent exchanging contact details between the donor and the charity. The two then agree on a delivery option between themselves. Perfect!
But now, I wanted to let charities know everything else donors were trying to give. And I was spending hours emailing them a list of items available, then more and more hours manually matching donations.
My husband is a successful real-estate agent, and loves selling warehouses, so when we sat down together and thought about how to solve this issue – we thought about creating a “virtual warehouse”.
It would be a warehouse where people can go to the GIVIT website, fill in details about the item they want to give, click ‘submit’, and then those details are available for all charities to see.You wouldn’t need to go to a physical warehouse to see what’s there, and you wouldn’t need volunteers sorting through mountains of unwanted donations.
It means charities can login through the GIVIT website and see every single donated item available in their local area – a free online shopping list! They are also sent an (automatic!) email each week telling them what items have been offered in their area.
Items are uploaded with photos too, so that charities have a chance to judge the quality of a donation before they receive it.
Now, honestly the name Virtual Warehouse still confuses people. I might change the wording one day. But name aside, our Virtual Warehouse works brilliantly – with charities logging in every single day, seeing the list of donated items available in their local area and then gratefully accepting those donations.
The GIVIT Virtual Warehouse has now won The Australian National Innovation Award… and it was all because Glen had no clean clothes to wear!