I had a few minutes between appointments yesterday and got to stop in one of my favorite thrift stores.

It’s one of the stores operated by Knox Area Rescue Ministries and it’s a really nice store.  Every time I go in there, I have to smile.  That store is there in part because of me.

More than 10 years ago, I took my first job in Development at the Rescue Ministries.  My job consisted of managing special events (don’t we ALL do that at first?), coordinating volunteers, and overseeing the thrift store.

At that time, there was one location for the store and it wasn’t doing well.  It had been operating in the red for sometime and the President of the organization was ready to close it.  But I wanted a shot at turning it around.

I didn’t have any experience in thrift stores, but I had worked in retail before. So I took a look around and started making changes. I fired the store manager and hired someone with a lot of passion for the organization’s mission.  I made a few common sense changes in the store like applying a fresh coat of paint, expanding the hours, and increasing the prices of a few items (like charging $2 for a shirt instead of $1).

And within 2 months, we were turning a nice profit.  In month 3, we netted $10,000.  It was awesome!  The Board Chair sent me a nice cookie bouquet!  Later that year, I wrote a business plan to further expand the store, opening multiple locations in the community.

Today, there are several locations throughout the city.  And I smile when I pass one. I know I helped create something wonderful that has lasted long after I left my job there.

Of course, the store has gone through some ups and downs since then, but had I not been there and gotten things going, the store would have been closed in 1998.

Today, the thrift stores provide jobs to people in the community and a source of revenue for the Rescue Ministries.

So, what fundraising legacy will you leave behind?

No matter what job you do, you have the ability to leave something wonderful when you leave.  I invite you to think carefully about what that will be and see what you can do to make it happen.

  1. When we put our ideas out there, or tackle project, we don’t really know what legacy it will leave. But when you see the potential for something to be more than it is right now, you DO leave a leagacy, because that message gets out to everyone who becomes involved. It is about possibilities, and that’s how we get progress, after all. I think that is what you offer the nonprofits you work with, Sandy–that possibility thinking and a fresh perspective (as well as years of know-how and some great systems). Great legacy!

  2. I love this story; a story of impact. When in the corporate world I remember becoming aware of a self-guding mantra for my contribution: “I can be replaced, but I will leave a big whole where I’ve been.” I know that can be taking negatively, but is was my simple self-reminder to do what I had been given to do with all my passion and love our front. That is what I hear in your story. Thanks for sharing.

  3. So cool, I didn’t know that about you, Sandy. But the underlying point is the gift….just look at whatever is before you with fresh eyes. Your legacy is one of standing in service to those who want to change the world, and the stores are just one piece of evidence that supports your legacy. So cool!
    Sue Painter

  4. Some people see things that are and ask, Why? Some people dream of things that never were and ask, Why not? Some people have to go to work and don’t have time for all that..

    Sent from my Android phoneSome people see things that are and ask, Why? Some people dream of things that never were and ask, Why not? Some people have to go to work and don’t have time for all that..

    Sent from my Android phone

  5. Yay You! It is such an interesting contemplation to consider one’s legacy. When I run into a client and see their happiness, I feel the value of the work I do. And, lately, I have been thinking about all the good works available to do and what is interesting at this time to me is asking myself, “Yes, it is good work, but is it MY work?”. This is really helping me stay clear about my work and legacy. Thanks for a great post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *