One of the most asked questions we get as a company refers to returned, unsold or discontinued products…do we just throw all those perfectly good products away? Do they go back to the vendor? Before 2008, unfortunately the answer to both of those questions was “yes.” We either threw away unsold or discontinued products or shipped them back to the vendor. From a business perspective, and certainly not from an employee morale or environmental perspective, neither of those were really good options. Associates were consistently sending emails to the company’s management asking why we weren’t donating these products to local community organizations that could really use them. They were right, of course.
As a result, in 2008 we launched the Framing Hope Product Donation Program, which is a collaborative effort between The Home Depot®, The Hope Depot Foundation and the nonprofit, Gifts In Kind International. Since the program began, $75 million in products from more than 1,000 Home Depot stores have been donated to more than 1,200 nonprofit partners, resulting in the diversion of 35,000 tons of usable product from landfills.
Here’s how it works:
– Local Home Depot stores are matched with nonprofits in their communities. The nonprofits have to be a 501(c)(3) organization and they must go through an intense vetting process to determine their eligibility.
– The nonprofits must have the capacity to pick up a wide variety of donated products and building supplies on a weekly basis. The deal is that the store will give them everything they have to give and the nonprofit has to take whatever that may be. This week, the store may give them bathroom fixtures, hammers and an assortment of rugs. Next week it could be doors, windows and lumber.
– The nonprofits set up a time to come to the store on a weekly basis to pick up the products. They have to have their own transportation to haul the product away.
Each week more than 1,200 nonprofit organizations across the country drive away from more than 1,000 Home Depot stores with products they can use to support their services. We find that the best recipients for the products are organizations with housing units to maintain. For instance, Atlanta Union Mission has more than 1,000 beds in various shelters for the homeless and substance-addicted. Home Depot donations have helped the mission renovate the dormitories at The Potter’s House, a working farm outside Athens, Georgia that houses about 180 men in long-term, intensive care for chemical addiction. Read more about Framing Hope and the Atlanta Union Mission.
The program has been so successful that we wanted a way to extend the opportunity to smaller nonprofits that might not be able to do the pickup from the stores themselves and might not have the capacity to absorb all of the donated products every week. Last year, we launched the Framing Hope Warehouse Strategy which partners Home Depot stores with large nonprofit organizations that have the logistical capability to redistribute the products to a wide range of smaller nonprofit organizations. Gifts in Kind International continues to be an amazing partner with us in this effort.
We currently have two Framing Hope warehouses in operation. The warehouse in Buffalo, N.Y. was the first to open last year, and just last week we opened our second warehouse in Los Angeles County. In Buffalo, we operate the warehouse in conjunction with WNY Americorps. Read more about this warehouse in Buffalo Business First. In Los Angeles County, the warehouse is operated with Save the Children.
I am so proud of the work that everyone involved in the Framing Hope program does to make it successful, from the store associates who first suggested the idea and who now help the nonprofits each week to the staff at Gifts in Kind International who manage the program on a daily basis. It’s a significant effort that’s improving the lives of our fellow citizens, keeping landfills clear of unnecessary waste and helping us from a business perspective. The Framing Hope Product Donation Program is the definition of the triple bottom line!
If you know of a nonprofit organization that might be interested in participating in the Framing Hope Program, please share this link with them: http://thd.giftsinkind.org/homedepot/.