By JESSICA ABLE, Record Staff Writer
Before tossing out that old couch or pitching those gently-used cell phones, people might consider donating them.
But to whom? And where do you go to get started?
Finding an individual or organization that will accept your items might be cumbersome and time-consuming, but that’s where Susan Spalding and DonorsResource.org can help.
Spalding is the volunteer community director of DonorsResource.org. DonorsResource.org is an online hub intended to connect people or businesses that want to donate new or used items to area non-profit organizations. Those non-profit groups will then distribute the donated items to the people who need them.
Launched in early July in the Greater Louisville area, DonorsResource.org traces its roots to Portland, Ore.
The original organization was founded in 2007 by Portland resident Della Rae, and was launched as an online directory for individuals to search for non-profit organizations in a particular zip code.
Since its incarnation, more than 539 non-profit agencieshave received more than 142,000 donated items, Rae said in a telephone interview Nov. 13.
“We always wanted to be the nation’s conduit for in-kind donations but never thought it would take off the way it has,” she said.
Spalding learned about DonorsResource.org when she was in the carpool line at Holy Trinity School at the end of March.
“I read an article in Family Circle magazine about Della and what she was doing with DonorsResource.org,” the stay-at-home mother of four said in an interview at her home Nov. 9. “Since my youngest has turned four (and will be in school next year) I’d been thinking about what I wanted to do with myself and my time.”
After contacting area non-profits, doing some research and conducting surveys to test the feasibility of her idea, Spalding contacted Rae about expanding DonorsResource.org to Louisville.
“There are so many good people who have great stuff to give but (donating it) gets tossed on the back burner,” Spalding said. “It’s hard to find out who needs what. This is a great way to help distribute things.”
The site essentially performs two tasks: it searches and identifies items needed in a particular zip code, and it allows users to post items they wish to donate.
So far, more than 40 area non-profit organizations in seven counties in Kentucky (Bullitt, Jefferson, Oldham and Shelby) and Indiana (Clark, Floyd and Harrison) have become partners with DonorsResource.org, including St. Joseph Children’s Home, the Passionist Earth & Spirit Center and Project Warm, Spalding said. Presently only a handful of items have been directly matched from donors to organizations in need, but Spalding said she is beginning to see increased activity as more people become aware of the service.
Needed items range from baby products and clothing for all ages to building supplies and office furniture.
There is no cost for non-profit organizations to become partners with DonorsResource.org currently, but there are plans in the works to introduce a nominal fee based on an organization’s budget to become a member, Spalding said.
The fee “would be just enough to sustain the technology costs. Everyone at DonorsResource.org is a volunteer,” Spalding noted.
There is no charge for individuals or businesses to donate items, she added.
Jim Laemmle, the executive director of South Louisville Community Ministries (SLCM), first came in contact with DonorsResource.org through the Association of Community Ministries and said he was so impressed with the organization’s mission that he decided to become a non-profit member.
In mid-November Laemmle was in need of a deep freezer for the SLCM Adult Day Care center and checked the DonorsResource.org “virtual warehouse” to see if one was available. There was, and he made arrangements to pick it up right away.
“If periodically, we are able to get something like that, then it’s worthwhile,” he said.
Laemmle added, “What I like about DonorsResource.org is that it gives donors an opportunity to give things away in an orderly manner. For us, it saves us money, or gets us things we normally wouldn’t get because it’s not in the budget.”
Spalding’s involvement with DonorsResource.org is not just something to fill her time. She views her role with the organization as a ministry.
“I think about single mothers who struggle to take care of kids and hold down a job and only have a set amount of money each month,” she said. “If they can knock out one item — a winter coat or pair of shoes — (then she can) put the money toward a different need.
“Whether it’s a single mother or a person coming out of homelessness or a veteran getting back on their feet, DonorsResource.org can help,” Spalding said.
Rae expressed her delight in Spalding’s work in the Louisville area by saying, “Susan is an amazing, heartfelt, focused, community-minded extraordinaire. Though we’ve never met in person, I can’t imagine my life without her.”
Spalding and her husband, Stuart, are parishioners of Holy Trinity Church. The couple have four children: Gracie, 10, Carter, 9, Andrew, 8, and Ella, 4.
To learn more about DonorsResource.org or to become a member organization, visit DonorsResource.org.