In its February issue, Business NH Magazine carried an interesting article ("Commercializing Nonprofits") about how non-profit organizations are becoming more creative and efficient in supporting their varied missions. One of the aspects explored by the article was the effective use of thrift stores to generate needed support for their programs.
I responded to the article, complementing the editor on the importance of the issue. However, I also reminded him that they had missed the ultimate example of the theme in New Hampshire that exists right here in the Lakes Region (ever notice how the Lakes Region many times goes unnoticed as compared with the south?) — the Laconia Conference of St. Vincent de Paul. The examples Business NH Magazine had used in the article were relative "newcomers" located in the southern tier of the state, while St. Vincent de Paul in Laconia has been accomplishing this kind of success for over 20 years.
The SVdP thrift store generates about $200,000 in sales each year (in a much smaller populated area than Manchester and/or Concord), not counting about $25,000 in clothing, furniture, etc. given away to those in need — all donated items. Proceeds go to support their food pantry, financial assistance, and children's programs (over 2500 kids helped last year) — all among the largest private non-profit programs in the state (the food pantry gives away about $200,000 in food to over 10,000 people per year).
How much of the revenues go for programs vis-a-vis administrative costs? Virtually all, as they have no paid management or no paid employees! The entire organization relies on volunteers — about 120. In fact, they have never paid a dime in salaries/wages in their 22 years. They also own their own building, so no rent. It should also be noted that they receive no federal or state operating funds, and you won't find them in the local municipal warrant articles requesting funding as well. And no food from the NH Food Bank. Finally, it goes without saying, that the people of the Lakes Region have always supported St. Vincent de Paul with their extremely generous donations of food, clothes, furniture, and — of course — cash.
Interested in finding out more? Give them a call (524-5470) or stop in their offices on Union Avenue between McDonald's and KFC.