University of Missouri
- In his role as Surplus Property & Asset Manager at the University of Missouri , Bo Solomon first turned to eBay as an eco-friendly way to recycle the school’s excess supplies, furniture, and electronic equipment, while also raising much-needed funds. But what started out as simple monthly eBay auctions of select "sellable" items quickly took on a life of its own when Solomon was introduced to eBay for Charity .
An Intro Course
- Though initially attracted by the eBay for Charity fee credit , Solomon was particularly excited to find that the program raised the University’s visibility online, resulting in a snowball effect in terms of sales. "Better scores boost our eBay profile. And the fact that we’re a nonprofit helps encourage people to buy and be repeat buyers," he said. In fact according to Solomon, a majority of sales are from repeat customers, including alumni, locals and dedicated University of Missouri fans, many of whom he's come to know on a first-name basis through their eBay transactions.
- Citing the combination of reduced fees, increased sales, and a loyal customer base, Solomon believes eBay for Charity is one of the University’s most cost-effective forms of fundraising. Completely self-sustaining, the University's eBay store currently employs five people, across three campuses, in both part- and full-time positions. By putting 35% of all items' sales proceeds toward running the store, Solomon is able to cover not only his employees’ salaries, but also the cost of transportation and labor involved in collecting and distributing donated items. The remaining 65% goes back to the donated piece's department of origin, providing it with an avenue to both recycle old equipment and invest in new technology for students. Departments have also indicated that funds generated through eBay for Charity are vital to their efforts to add student employees to their payrolls.
Making the Grade
- Looking forward, Solomon can see even greater potential for fundraising through eBay for Charity. One of the program’s biggest successes has been the increase in in-kind donations for resale. While universities traditionally place a great deal of emphasis on raising monetary donations from alumni, eBay for Charity opens the door to a wider array of gifting options. To this point, Solomon says that one of their best sales to date was that of a set of antique Hummel Figurines donated from a private estate.
- In addition to encouraging these in-kind donations from alumni, Solomon can also imagine University supporters joining in as Community Sellers with proceeds going towards scholarships. And while the logistics of creating a scholarship fund may be a bit down the road, Solomon believes that all nonprofit Direct Sellers should be thinking about new and innovative ways to use eBay for Charity. As a proponent of university eBay stores, he’s presented the benefits of being a nonprofit Direct Seller to University Surplus Property Association (USPA) conferences and hopes to share ideas and experiences with participating universities in the near future.