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For profit helping charities.

I have a business idea to help charities raise money.  My idea is to take used books and sell them online and at our warehouse which would be open to the public.  I know this has been done before with textbooks but why not any type of books, cds,dvds.  I would like to help cancer charities since that is close to my heart.  But would be open to helping any charity that a donor of items would want their profits to go towards.  I looked at the IRS website and see that if I run this as a for profit company that I can only donate 50% of my adjusted gross.  Do you think it is worth going through the difficult process to become a nonprofit?  I have a few issues that I see I would need to overcome.  One is the expense of shipping the books from the donor to my warehouse.  I am bootstrapping this idea so i cant afford to pay the shipping without knowing if i can even sell anything that comes in.  any ideas on this?  I could just start locally here in my area.  I would need to find a donation box so people could drop off books at different locations.  any idea on book drops?  Need a name for the business too.
Well how does my idea sound?  Any feedback is appreciated.
Jason Thoerner


  • bertbert subscriber Posts: 12
    I am confused, do you want to do this for profit or not?  I also don`t understand why shipping is a problem.  Whether you are a nonprofit or profit company this is an expense that is generally charged the buyer.
  • thoerner13thoerner13 subscriber Posts: 3
    I guess I wasnt clear.  I am not sure if I should go through the process of becoming a nonprofit or just be a for profit company that donates 50% of our profits to charities.  Just wanted some ideas on why you would choose one over the other. 
    The shipping problem is about getting the books to me.  I know that people would have to pay the shipping to me but is there a way to not have them pay to ship their donations to me?  I think people would rather donate things locally versus having to pay for a box of heavy books to be shipped to me.  Maybe they would pay for it if they knew it was going to help a charity that they were passionate about.
    Thanks in advance.
    Jason Thoerner
  • bertbert subscriber Posts: 12
    I don`t know of any for profit businesses that raise money for charities as their primary goal.  There is a good reason for this.  You need to be 100% behind your goal and if you are pocketing 50% I think you will have a hard time selling your ideas to contributors.
    As for getting the books and stuff to you, do you plan to do this through the Internet globally or nationally, or do you plan to do it only on a local basis?
  • thoerner13thoerner13 subscriber Posts: 3
    I am going to start locally with some type of collection bins at places I can get to agree to be a drop off location.  I was thinking about churches, large businesses and maybe some local government locations.  I would like to get Internet donations from people in the United States at some point also. 
    I see your point about being a for profit trying to raise money for charity and only giving away 50%.  I guess it would be better to be a non profit that helps other charities raise funds.  That might get the other charities to help spread the word to their donors about my site.  I would want them to not only donate books but maybe buy some also.  I have even thought about paying the charity of the donors choice per book donated.  It would have to be small since I am not trying to make a lot of money per item that I sell.
    I like the idea of opening my warehouse up to the public in my area and selling items for a flat rate of $1.  That way everyone would benefit from being able to get books at a reasonable cost while helping out a charity. 
    Thanks for the help!  It has really made me look at things in a different view.
    Jason Thoerner
  • LiveWiseLiveWise subscriber Posts: 5
     If you have to itemize each book yourself and then sell it for $0.50 to $2.00 and have a place to store it and then pack it up and ship it, you are not going to make very much to be able to donate.  And that`s even if the books are all donated.  I have found much better results having this BookWise franchise that only costs me $39 a month and they do the website, all the listings, shipping, customer service, etc.  It`s worth $39 a month to have that all done for me.  They give me 40% of the profits.  All I have to do is get the people buying to buy from my site. 
    A friend of mine started his own BookWise franchise and selected some organizations that can do fundraisers and donate 10-20% of the profits back.  He is actually doing better than me by giving back because so many people will rally around buying at a discount and raising money for charity.    If you want to know more, let me know.
    LiveWise12/18/2007 1:53 AM
  • KevDevKevDev subscriber Posts: 5 Member
    Might I suggest you write a business plan, and concentrate on the financial projections. The great thing about a plan is that you can play "what if" with your projections, trying out different scenarios, to see what works and what doesn`t.
    It also wouldn`t hurt to get some experience either working for a non-profit, or perhaps at a nearby used book store. The real-world experience would be invaluable.
    Good luck!
  • stonesledgestonesledge subscriber Posts: 608 Silver Level Member
    You should read the last issue of businessweek...or was it entreprenuer?? In any case there was ayoung gentleman who has a for profit book selling company who was donating 15% of profits to charity but to be competitive and pay overhead he had to drop down to 10%...look into this there was an entire writeup on exactly what you want to do.
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