June 4, 2019

Nonprofits don’t necessarily want your stuff, but this one will find a good home for it

Chicago native Emily Petway launched GiveNkind to be hub for donors to give just about anything, and for fellow nonprofits to take what they need.

From socks to jump ropes, GiveNKind connects nonprofits with items they can use. Photo courtesy of GiveNKind

While teaching high school band in Georgia, I noticed a hardworking student was not going to prom because she couldn’t afford a gown. I didn’t want her, or any other student at our school, to miss out on this right of passage. So I decided to start a chapter of a nationwide dress bank, Becca’s Closet.

After seven years we moved to a donated 1,200-square-foot building and served girls across Atlanta. Operating almost entirely on in-kind donations, I learned how time-consuming it was to find and secure items we needed. To stay in the donated facility, we needed a lawnmower to keep up the lawn. Searching a community post we found one but didn’t respond in time. Instead, someone got a lawnmower for their vacation home. What was a convenience for someone, was a necessity for our organization. It was in that moment that the idea for GiveNkind was born. It would become a hub where only 501(c)3 organizations would benefit from goods and where donors could create a deep community impact with their donations.

[Read: What homeless shelters really need]

We held the first meeting for GiveNkind in October of 2012. Based in Chicago, my hometown, our dedicated board and web development team worked to build a web platform where nonprofits could post their wish list items and donors could post items to give. After winning the Chicago Hackathon with a prototype of this idea—working with Illinois Business Consulting, and two iterations of the JP Morgan Chase’s Technology for Social Good service grant—GiveNkind had a platform to share.

What we didn’t realize was that people weren’t looking to give just one or two items, the wanted to give many items of a wide variety. We found it time consuming for users to enter individual items on the website.

After another web facelift from GoodFolk Agency in Chicago, GiveNkind changed our model to include collecting and warehousing new and gently used donations. This allowed donors to clean out their closets or warehouses in one sweep. In the last week of November 2018, GiveNkind opened its first storage unit. We now accept bags, crates, and sometimes even a whole truckloads of donated goods.

Concurrently, GiveNkind began a partnership with Chicago-based logistics start-up, ShipBob. ShipBob recognized how much material waste that canceled orders, surplus, and abandoned goods can create. GiveNkind continues to work placing these goods from ShipBob distribution centers in the U.S. into local 501(c)3 organizations. Since Oct. 1, 2018, GiveNkind has placed nearly $1,000,000 in-kind goods into the hands of nonprofits across the country.

Since Oct. 1, 2018, GiveNkind has placed nearly $1,000,000 in-kind goods into the hands of nonprofits across the country.

We are proud to provide a community of giving, where individual and corporate donors can take an item that was going unused and donate it to a nonprofit. This nonprofit doesn’t resell it, but puts it to use. Donors can also feel a sense of pride knowing their gift makes an impact. Our volunteers aren’t just helping one nonprofit, rather their efforts help a variety of organizations across the nonprofit sector.

Our collected items are so diverse that there are over 80 nonprofit partners filling needs and planning programs around the items they receive from GiveNkind. Thanks to a donation of jump ropes, a community center created a heart-healthy event. Donated socks led to a tie-dye party. While we anticipated individuals and corporations donating items, we did not know that some of our biggest donors would be nonprofits! Nonprofits, at times, are offered items they want to accept but in quantities they can’t warehouse. Rather than saying no to the donation, the nonprofit accepts the donation, takes what they can store, and offers the rest to GiveNkind. We in turn divide the larger donation among our interested partners.

We are proud to be unique. We offer this free service with an all-volunteer staff and make a national impact. For every $1 donated to GiveNkind, our organization can place $97.14 of in-kind goods into the hands of nonprofits who need them the most.

We are looking for volunteers in the Chicago area who can help at our storage facility, and volunteers across the country who can work remotely, connecting donated items with nonprofits. We are also looking for warehouse space that can allow us to accept more items so we can continue to extend our reach.

If you are interested in helping or learning more, we invite you to visit our site at GiveNkind.org, email contact@givenkind.org, or call 847-802-8977.

Emily Petway

Emily is a lifelong nonprofit enthusiast, fascinated by stories of giving and the power of volunteerism to change communities. A Northwestern and University of Michigan graduate, she spent 15 years teaching music, grades 2-12, and currently serves as the Education Programs Manager for the Illinois Music Education Association. As a nonprofit manager, Emily has seen nonprofits struggle to find essential items which prompted her to launch the nonprofit GiveNkind in 2012. GiveNkind connects nonprofits in need with donors who have items to give. Facilitating donations from a single gently used item to pallets of brand new goods, GiveNkind has placed nearly $1,000,000 in donated goods into nonprofits since October of 2018. Emily lives in Buffalo Grove with her husband, two girls, kitty, and loves yoga and gardening.