Featured Success Stories
Thousands of charities both small and large have experienced huge success with eBay for Charity. Be inspired by their stories and discover ways your cause can benefit from our global audience.
About Blind Center of Nevada
The Blind Center of Nevada assists people who are blind or visually impaired in reaching their highest physical, social, intellectual and economic potential. The organization provides emotional and physical support, personal enrichment programs, as well as skills training, educational resources and ongoing assistance to help the visually impaired find employment and personal independence.
The organization was the dream of F. Marion Keele, who lost his sight in 1934 at age 38. Marion and his wife, Effie, spent time at the Utah Blind Center in Salt Lake City, where they learned to teach crafts and skills to others who were also visually impaired. Marion was inspired to provide this type of sanctuary and learning center in Las Vegas. When he died in 1955, one of his students, Audrey Bascom Tait, took on his mission and enlisted the help of the Lion’s Club to open the Sightless Center in Las Vegas. The Sightless Center was transformed into the Blind Center of Nevada in early 2000, with a renewed commitment to help visually impaired individuals see beyond their limitations and discover their personal greatness.
The nonprofit organization initially relied solely on charitable contributions from organizations, foundations and individuals to cover its operating costs, but realized it needed a more stable and sustainable financial model to support its mission.
In 2003, the Blind Center began collecting electronics, such as computers, servers, printers and cell phones, for recycling and refurbishment for resale. The program enables the organization to provide a service to the community and skills training and employment for the visually impaired—18 of the Center’s electronics recycling employees are legally blind—as well as income for the organization.
Read more about how the Electronics Recycling Center has impacted employee Marco Martinez.
eBay for Charity Solution: Direct Selling
The Blind Center of Nevada turned to eBay in 2007 at the guidance of Gary Nicholson, a member of the Center and a personal eBay seller. Gary encouraged the organization to broaden its customer base beyond the greater Las Vegas area, tapping into the global online marketplace to sell its refurbished electronics. The Blind Center sales its products on its eBay for Charity store, directing 100 percent of the sales proceeds directly back to the organization.
Before its eBay for Charity store, the electronics program contributed 10 percent to the organization’s operating budget. Today, the Electronics Recycling Center is a sustainable enterprise that’s largely self-sufficient. The program funds 65 percent of the Blind Center’s annual budget, enabling 100 percent of donor contributions to go toward programming at the Center.
Soon, the Blind Center of Nevada will move to its new 36,000 square foot facility and expand its program beyond electronics. The Center’s Las Vegas location makes it uniquely positioned to capitalize on product donations from the hospitality industry, including furniture and fixtures. The expanded facility will enable the organization to grow its asset disposition service, train and employ more visually impaired people in Southern Nevada with meaningful work, and offer a wider variety of products to its global customer base on eBay.
Learnings & Benefits
Todd Imholte, Chief Development and Marketing Officer at the Blind Center of Nevada, offers these tips to other nonprofit organizations looking to create a more self-sustaining operating model:
- Align your approach with your mission. For us, building a business model that empowers our blind and visually impaired to contribute in a meaningful way was essential. Nationally, approximately 80 percent of people that are blind are unemployed. eBay enables our members to obtain meaningful jobs at the Blind Center, giving them confidence and the financial means necessary to support their families.
- Leverage eBay’s access to a global donor base. There’s opportunity to develop relationships with people from all over the world through eBay and people love to buy when they have an opportunity to support a good cause. eBay’s tools make it easy to connect and build relationships that have lasting value to the Blind Center.
- Communicate the benefits with donors. Donors want to know how their support matters in the lives of those who need the help. When we bring donors on tours and show them that working with eBay allows us to employ people in telemarketing, listing, dismantling, technology and more, they want to get involved. For our members, eBay changes lives and we want our donors to see first-hand the scope of changes their contributions make in the lives of those dealing with blindness.
“The impact eBay has on the blind community in Las Vegas is really astounding,” said Todd. “The goods we touch end up in other parts of the world. For example, someone in South America may be seeing the Internet for the first time thanks to a computer we refurbished and sold on eBay. We could not have the financially sustainable business model that we have today without eBay.”