Donations Increase by 170% at Twin Cities’ Habitat for Humanity

Twin Cities’ Habitat for Humanity ReStore first opened in 2008 in New Brighton, Minnesota.

First, they outgrew their building. Then in 2015, they added Vonigo’s donation pickup software. By 2016, they added a second location and a second truck, and increased their donations by 170% overall. Here’s how they did it.

Rapid Growth Made Possible With Additional Truck and Software

“We opened our second store location in September 2016, says Robin Henrichsen, ReStore Donations Manager. “To support increased donation pickups and sales, we expanded our truck fleet from one to two trucks. This change was easy to implement in the new system and got us up to speed quickly. We increased donation pickups by 170% in the first year.”

“Jill Carmody, our Store Manager, is our hero,” says Henrichsen. “She brought in much-needed processes in store to help things run smoothly.” She also credits Sr. Operations Manager Pete O’Keeke with being the team’s “fearless leader,” but says it’s the community that makes their success possible.

“Business donors and individual donors are the lifeblood of the ReStore,” she says. “We help them to find a home for their unneeded items and we keep things out of the landfill and help families in our local community find safe, stable and affordable housing.”

“We continue to look for ways to increase our donation pickups, which leads to increased sales,” says Heinrichsen. “This could be adding a truck or adding days to the route. We continue to strive to increase sales, be profitable and support more home builds with our profit. The ultimate goal is to increase our store count as the donation stream grows.”

Their appreciation for the community is a sentiment that runs in both directions. Donors and customers in the Twin Cities like the ReStores for the ability to find a great deal on a home improvement items, and for the great customer service during the donation pick up and scheduling.

When a donor donates their used building materials to Habitat for Humanity, the ReStores sell it back to consumers. The funds they raise from the ReStores go toward building homes in their local communities and abroad for deserving families in need of support.

How Software Helps Solve Inefficiencies and Improve Communications

The addition of donation pickup software helps them reduce the time the ReStore teams spend entering data into their systems. “We had one system for creating a pickup and another system to create the route,” says Heinrichsen of life before the new tech. “The system was not reliable and broke down often. This caused frustration and rework.”

After looking for a replacement, they settled on Vonigo. “It allows the donor to enter all of their information about their donation and allowed them to include a photo of their items. We created auto-response emails to confirm details of the pickup. This reduced time spent on the process.”

“Communication between store staff and Donation pickups has greatly improved,” says Heinrichsen. “The donations team is able to move pickups between trucks to better balance inventory in our two store locations. We are able to re-route when needed to get unique items to the store that will sell them more quickly.”