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Seattle Children’s Hospital taps OfferUp app to fuel mobile donations

Seattle Children’s Hospital is inspiring more donations by fostering a partnership between several donation-based shops and a mobile marketplace application, which contacts potential buyers via a messaging feature.

Higher numbers of organizations are uncovering the potential that mobile offers in collecting donations and reaching new audiences. Seattle Children’s Hospital, in particular, has joined forces with high-end secondhand item retailer Seattle Children’s Bargain Boutiques and the OfferUp app to prompt city residents to check out new inventory and simultaneously support a great cause.

“We have five store locations in the Puget Sound area,” said Valorie Tutt, online media coordinator at Bargain Boutique. “OfferUp’s messaging feature is a great way to present our stores in potential buyers’ locations.

“This lets five different communities know about us and what we have to offer.”

Spreading the word
Bargain Boutique, which falls under the umbrella of Seattle Children’s Bargain Boutiques, encompasses several donation-based stores in the Seattle area that sell high-end secondhand pieces and offer 100 percent of the proceeds to the city’s renowned hospital. The company has now joined forces with the OfferUp app, described as a mobile marketplace for sellers and buyers.

Bargain Boutique volunteers can take pictures of new inventory items, set prices and reach out to potential buyers using OfferUp’s in-app messaging feature. For example, if a new Dooney & Bourke handbag arrives in-store, a volunteer can message a consumer who has previously purchased that brand’s pieces and ask if he or she would be interested in the available item.

Buyers can then stop by at a local Bargain Boutique to purchase the product, knowing that their money is ultimately going to a worthy organization.

This partnership will help ensure that no child goes without urgent medical care at the Seattle-based hospital, a commitment that other hospitals or clinics may want to pursue.

“We started using OfferUp about a year ago,” Ms. Tutt said. “A customer actually suggested we use OfferUp.

“We have received a wonderful response from our customers, and have sold quite a few items as a result. Our followers have mentioned that they not only love our merchandise, but are particularly happy to see that the money is going to such a good cause.”

The constant connectivity of mobile is well-suited to secondhand consignment stores as well. Since inventory is limited, the ability to communicate directly with loyal customers about pieces that may be a good match for them is a valuable tool to have.

The OfferUp app also enables individual buyers and sellers not affiliated with a particular company to use its features, functioning much like a mobile version of Craigslist.

Mobile donations rising
A slew of individuals and brands have been taking advantage of mobile’s ability to inspire and collect donations from on-the-go consumers.

Last year, Uber drove Goodwill donations by offering consumers a chance to download the ride-sharing app and request a free pick-up and delivery of their goods to a local Goodwill store (see story).

Similarly, Chili’s Grill and Bar leveraged its tabletop tablet devices to make it easy for customers to donate to its annual fundraiser for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, and rewarded those who signed up for its mobile loyalty program with bonus points for each donation made (see story).

Mobile donations have also played a critical role in many presidential candidates’ fundraising campaigns this year.

If the Seattle Children’s Hospital receives a high number of donations as a result of the collaboration between OfferUp and Bargain Boutique, it could spur many other urgent care organizations to turn to smartphones to solicit the public for financial assistance.

“We have found that there are still many people out there who are not familiar with our stores or our mission,” Ms. Tutt said. “OfferUp is such a quick and easy way to connect with them.

“Since customers must come to a store location to purchase items, they are able to see how much we have to offer and the great cause they are supporting. OfferUp is a no-cost way to broaden our brand in the community.”