People who buy a book on Amazon.com may not realize they may be contributing to Goodwill at the same time.
“We sell all our books on Amazon and share our profits with Goodwill to help fund their workforce development programs,” said Joel Roberts, executive director of Shared Knowledge Literacy Foundation.
Roberts and his two brothers founded their non-profit organization in 2007 after one of them visited a yard sale. “My brother was on his way out of a position with Circuit City and went to a yard sale to see what he could find to make some money. He found a cardboard box full of books and saw financial potential,” said Roberts.
Shared Knowledge helps organizations find revenue for their charitable works through online book sales. “We created a program that identifies which books customers want to buy, so we can maximize sales on the e-commerce marketplace,” said Roberts. Since the partnership started in 2008, Shared Knowledge generates around $15,000 in discovered book value each month for Goodwill.
“Some for-profit companies do the same thing, but only manage to give back 10 percent of their profits to their partnered organization. We give back 50-percent,” said Roberts “We want Goodwill donors to know their gifts are being used as efficiently as possible, and everything powers Goodwill’s mission to help the community,” he added.
Goodwill’s mission includes providing workforce education and training services to individuals facing challenges to work — at no cost to the participants. The non-profit organization operates five community employment centers across Central and Coastal Virginia, creating pathways to opportunities and success for more than 17,000 individuals every year.
“This partnership highlights two of our core values: innovation and teamwork,” said Bill Carlson, Goodwill’s chief operating officer. “Shared Knowledge has the platform and manpower to sell books online. We have the donation strength and we provide access to donations that might otherwise sit on the shelves and eventually end up as recycled pulp,” said Carlson.
Shared Knowledge also partners with other Goodwill entities across the country, as far away as Honolulu. It helps local libraries and other literary organizations by giving grants, sponsoring reading programs and book giveaways.
“Our relationship with Goodwill means more to us than just money. Their professionalism and dedication to their mission inspired us to see what standards we should set for our own business,” said Roberts. He encourages other organizations, including non-profits, to partner with Goodwill. “We know we are making our community a better place.”