We're glad you ask questions. We think it's important that you know what happens to your donations and how they're used to support mentoring and other services provided by Big Brother Big Sister Foundation.
We're very different than most non-profit organizations in the used goods industry. We firmly believe the things that make us different help us raise more money that, in turn, helps even more at risk children.
With over 300,000 donors we get a LOT of questions. Those most frequently asked and their answers, appear below, beginning with our top 4 questions.
1. You have a retail store on Crescent St in Brockton, but do you sell online?
Yes, we sell designer & vintage clothing & one of kind and eclectic items ... click on Shop Now on our Facebook page: BBBS(sp)Foundation.
2. I get calls almost every day asking me to donate clothing & household goods. Why do you call me so much?
We call and ask for donations once a month. We don't call you every day or every week. We pick up donations in more than 300 towns across three states and use a monthly schedule to make sure we're in every town once each month. Our telemarketing staff calls prospective donors five to six days prior to our truck rolling through each town. It would be physically impossible for us to call you several times a week, not to mention irresponsible and financially disastrous. We call you once a month. We feel that's fair and reasonable practice.
3. So why am I receiving all of these calls?
Long story short, used goods from Massachusetts are highly prized throughout the world. This simple fact attracts far more organizations to the state to pick up used goods. Telemarketing is a proven method of soliciting donations. So, with more organizations comes more solicitation phone calls.
4. How can I stop from getting so many calls?
Ask the called to remove you from their calling list. Now, please understand that non-profits are not required to adhere to the national DNC (do not call) register. However, we do. If you ask us to remove you from our calling list, we do so the very same day. While this practice risks losing some donations, we feel it only right to do so.
Frankly, we'd rather send you an email instead of calling or sending you a postcard. It saves us money, which we can use to help even more children, and we feel it's far less intrusive than calling. And please note that we don't sell or distribute your email address to anyone. In fact, we don't even share emails with other BBBS agencies. We use your email address to alert you that we'll be in your town in a couple of days and we use it to send you a receipt for the goods you've donated. We may also email you if we have questions about the exact location of your house or where you're leaving your donation, although that happens infrequently. Our GPS and satellite tracking systems finds almost every home, even those tucked away in a small corner of the Cape or deep in the woods of New Hampshire.
While these are the three most asked questions, there are about twenty more that donors and prospective donors ask:
1. Are you a true charity?
Yes. Our IRS tax exempt number is 043323872. We began operations in March of 1997. You can obtain a copy of our tax filings through the Massachusetts AG's office or any of a number of online sites, including Guidestar.
2. What happens to the items I donate?
They are sold to generate money that supports the work of Big Brother Big Sister mentoring agencies. We sell items in a variety of way:
- We sell to thrift store chains throughout the United States
- Items are sold through our thrift stores, the Big B, located in Brockton.
- We sell items online
- Items are sold through auction houses
- We sell some items at flea markets, like those in Raynham and Marshfield
- We sell things like vintage bicycles, sports memorabilia and books to specialty buyers, locally and across the country
- Luxury and certain brand name items are sold through consignment shops and online
3. Who do you sell your clothes to?
We do not publish our list of buyers. We sell primarily to domestic thrift store chains that are in good standing with the IRS and the Better Business Bureau and are certified to do business in their particular state(s). We sell a small amount of clothing to a Canadian thrift chain.
4. Do you sell to local stores?
Yes. For example, we sell to the Garment District in Cambridge.
5. Where does the money you make go?
Revenue from the sale of donated items is used to pay for the operations of the Foundation, including telemarketing, trucking, insurance, fuel, retail and other costs. All profits are distributed to BBBS mentoring agencies, including Big Sisters of Greater Boston, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay and six other BBBS agencies in MA & So. NH.
6. What makes you different from the other charities picking up clothing?
We conduct our own operations. We are not managed or financially backed by any private corporation; we operate using a free market business model. Everyone that works for the Foundation, from drivers to telemarketers to workers at our attended donation stations, is on the Foundations payroll. Every penny of revenue is used to support our operations and help fund the great work of Big Brother Big Sister Agencies throughout Greater Boston, Easter Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire.
7. How much can I declare on my receipt?
Check with your tax advisor and IRS publication 746 (insert link from tax slip) for more information on the value of your donation for tax purposes.
8. Why can't you help me with the value of my items?
The IRS places the valuation on donated goods for tax purposes squarely on the donor.
9. Why don't you take large furniture?
In short, because of the costs involved. Most used furniture is not in resalable condition, which puts us in the unenviable position of having to pay for its disposal. Picking up furniture requires additional labor, which further increases our costs. While we would love to pick up furniture, it is just not profitable for us.
10. Why can't you take my appliances or large TV?
Safety reasons preclude us from picking up large electronics. We have one driver in the truck, which is why we place size limits on the electronics that can be picked up during our regular routes. We do conduct special electronic pick ups during the year and we do hold electronics collection events. In both venues, we do accept large appliances, televisions and electronics.
11. Why don't you have more collection bins?
We get better quality goods, far less trash and much less hassle picking up people's homes and businesses. Many bins have become dumping grounds for items like mattresses, broken electronics and other items, which is driving more and more legislation about placement and handling of collection bins. We are also experiencing more theft from bins than ever before. We are happy to come to your home and pick up your items.
12. Why can't your driver come inside my house?
Insurance liability restricts us from entering your home. We can however, make certain exceptions for the disabled. Just let us know that you are unable to place your items outside and we can work out something.
13. Where Can I Drop Off Donation if I Don't Want Home Pickup?
The ONLY place we accept donations is at our Office/Warehouse in Holbrook during regular business hours. We are located at 5 Mear Rd. which is off route 139.
14. Why can't your driver come to the back of my house?
Due to safety concerns. Over the years, we've learned that far fewer accidents- and misunderstandings- occur when donations are left in a place that's viewable from the street.
15. Why can't you pick up on Route 9 or Commonwealth Avenue?
Those are two of the twenty or so streets and roads from which MA or local laws prohibit our trucks. However, even if you live on such a road, we can still pick up your donations with a smaller vehicle.
16. Do you donate any clothing to needy people?
Yes, we do make a limited number of clothing donations throughout the year. We work with local police and fire departments to make such donations. We do not accept requests for donations of clothing directly from the public, but we work closely with community and outreach agencies across our service area.
We make other types of donations, as well. Every year we donate hundreds of winter coats to low income areas through Team BPS, Boston’s inner city school support program. We work with Toys for Tots, local authorities and other non profits to distribute toys to needy children during the holidays. Every fall, we donate backpacks (4,000 last fall) to needy children through multiple BBBS organizations. While our core business is collecting donated items, we are happy to make these types of donations.
17. Do you work with Savers?
18. How do I become a Big Brother or Big Sister? What's the process?
The Foundation's role is to collect and resell used goods and use the proceeds from those sales to support BBBS mentoring agencies in our area. We do not provide mentoring or other services. For information on becoming a "Big", please call the great people at Big in Boston. They can be reached by visiting bigsister.org or bbbsmb.org.
19. How do I sign my child up for a Big Sister or Big Brother mentor? What's the process?
The Foundation's role is to collect and resell used goods and to support BBBS mentoring agencies in our area from the proceeds of those sales. We do not provide mentoring or other services. For answers to this question, please visit bigsister.org or bbbsmb.org.
20. How much of the money you make goes to the kids?
Every penny of BBBS Foundation’s profit is distributed to BBBS agencies for the sole purpose of helping at-risk children. These monies were dispersed to Big Sisters of Greater Boston and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay. Six additional BBBS organizations receive a share of any profits on a quarterly basis. We provide unrestricted funding to BBBS mentoring agencies, which and may even be used to help pay the rent. It takes money to pay for the whole.
21. Do you take books?
Yes, but we are limited to two (2) boxes of books per pick up. Please, we cannot accept encyclopedias, text books or magazines.
22. What companies do you work with?
We work with a large variety of local and national companies such as, Macy's, Target, Stop and Shop, UPS, Boston Celtics, Lapel's and Boston Athletic Association, sponsors of the Boston Marathon.
23. Why don't you host warehouse sales anymore?
Insurance liability reasons prevents from allowing the general public into our warehouse. Our first thrift store, The Big B, is located nearby at 715 Crescent St. We sell the best of what we receive at the Big B. Lots of items are new merchandise.
24. I have some really nice things that are worth far more than you'll get at your thrift store. What can I do with them?
We’d love to have them to sell at our online auction sites.
25. You missed my pick up. When are you picking up again?
Our drivers are very, very good, but they are human. We're at as many as 2,500 homes every day and they do miss a few pickups. This June, we made 27,700 pickups and missed 83 donations. We are truly sorry for any donations we miss.
Please let us know that you've been missed and our dispatch office will work with you to arrange the earliest most convenient time to return to your home for your donation.
26. I arranged a pick up, but forgot to leave out my items. What should I do?
Give us a call. If at all possible, we'll send a driver back to your house. If you call us after our truck(s) have left your town, we'll arrange another time to come back and pick up your donations.
27. How can my company get involved?
Hundreds of companies hold clothing drives on our behalf during the year. If your company is interested, just let us know. You can also provide your parking lot for us to conduct electronics collection events, which have become very popular over the years. If you're in a metro and are amenable, we can also use your parking lot for one of our "popup stores,” a truck filled with goods that are sold to the general public in the area. We carry extra insurance for this type of event. Please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out other ways to help.