Today, you’d be hard-pressed to find a single nonprofit service-based organization that hasn’t seen a rise in the demand for supplies or services over the past couple of years. The world is truly a different place. With diminished educational experiences, increased mental health concerns, and global food insecurity the past three years have changed our lives.
With those changes comes an increase in the need for access to supportive services ranging from food banks to specialized period poverty programs, from accessing winter clothing drives to benefiting from school supply drives. Together, we can create successful strategies for your nonprofit.
The state of today’s economy which has seen major pricing increases around the globe for every imaginable item has worsened the already difficult circumstances for many individuals and families. Add to the rising costs, ongoing supply chain issues around the world continue to tie up the supply of products on store shelves. In our own communities, the increased demand for supplies and services by those in need creates a new challenge for already-stretched nonprofit organizations: “How can we meet the increased demand while maintaining quality supplies?”
There’s no simple answer. But there are steps to take that can help.
With limited budgets, nonprofit organizations find themselves torn in their decision to serve more people in need while maintaining the integrity of the materials and the organization itself. Turning people away because of shortages feels like failure. Giving away products and supplies of low quality to hit a perceived benchmark is a failure.
It has been a common practice for many organizations to reassess their supplies and opt for lower-priced items to reach as many individuals as possible. The growing reach is generally viewed by supporters, donors, and funders as a positive step in the expansion of an organization, however, when quality suffers the message being sent is that service users are still considered less valued than the general public.
Is it better to reach fewer with better products and services? Or is it better to give at least something and reach more people?
Let’s take a look at a common type of drive: Back to School Donation Drives.
When setting up a successful back to school donation drive, there are many considerations. Backpacks take a beating at every grade level. From being tossed around the schoolyard to being jam-packed with school books and supplies, lunches, gym clothes, and laptops, they need to stand up to tough conditions.
Pens, pencils, markers, and binders are often included in the backpack program to coincide with the drive, equipping students with everything they need to begin their school year. Problems begin when cheaper supplies are used. Backpacks are smaller and can’t contain the needed items. Zippers split. Pencil lead breaks within the pencils. Markers have little ink and quickly run dry. Binders fray and fall apart.
On the surface, students begin their year with what they need. For the first few weeks, students have that appearance of being on par with their peers. But parents soon find themselves scrambling to get additional supplies that the well-intentioned donors previously gave.
Sometimes quality can’t be sacrificed. Parents aren’t always in the position to pick up more products, spending more money in an economy that has left many already stretching their last few dollars.
What Can You Do?
Nonprofits and community-based organizations need to prioritize quality and consider where funds are best allocated. There are some items that can’t be sourced cheaply without sacrificing quality. Spending funds on the essentials is the right step to maintaining the dignity of service users allowing them to focus on their needs at home.
Clearly determine your organization’s priority when it comes to brand names, especially when it comes to school items and children’s items. There may be opportunities to leverage off-brand items without sacrificing quality, however, in some cases, off-brand products may serve to further the appearance of a socio-economic divide.
Some big-box stores have branded products that are manufactured by industry-leading companies thus ensuring both quality and value. Be sure to look into various options that maximize dollar value. There are many online lists that share the makers behind the brands. If there isn’t a clear determination of value and quality, contact the company and request a sample for evaluation or purchase a sample for your consideration and assessment.
Also, determine your key priority products. Maybe the ‘extras’ can’t be offered at all times, but ensuring everyone has the basics to meet their needs is likely why your organization began. In a school supply donation program, quality backpacks are typically the most important item that needs to last as long as possible. While funders and donors may initially be impressed with the reach of your organization, it’s imperative to look beyond the numbers and look at what is actually being offered. Quality items can make you stand out to donors who are more likely to get behind a mission that is reputable and truly makes a difference in the lives of service users.
Partner with Roonga
Roonga serves as the hub to connect nonprofits with the best in supplies. As an online donation platform for nonprofits, collecting funds from donors, your organization and those whom you serve benefit from Roonga’s bulk purchasing and established relationships with suppliers. Purchasing in bulk can help keep costs low while maintaining the level of quality that goes a long way to making your service users know that they are valued and appreciated.
If bulk purchasing isn’t what you have in mind, consider partnering with Roonga to build an accessible donation drive to maximize your organization’s reach for support. We have extensive experience working with organizations—like yours—to support individuals and communities with drives like Running Start 2022 and Samaritan House.Get in touch with Roonga today to find out how your nonprofit organization can benefit from a Roonga-supported drive to ensure the best products are at your fingertips, and in the hands of those who need them most.