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IU Study: Businesses Benefit From Donating Unwanted Items

Researchers say even unwanted items can help build brand identity among those they are donated to.

Socks

Photo: Bill Shaw/WTIU News

These socks are manufactured by Martinsville-based For Bare Feet.

Businesses can actually profit financially by donating their unsold products, according to a recent study from Indiana University that conducted a cost/benefit analysis on product donations.

When businesses have products that are not getting sold, they have a few options—leave them in storage, throw them away, sell them at very low prices or donate them. Donating the goods is often the most financially beneficial option says newly published research from Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

IU associate professor Justin Ross conducted the research and he says companies can get nonprofits to take unwanted goods off their hands.

“In many cases there are people that want to inventory enough that they will pay for the shipping costs and the tax benefits are quite considerable,” Ross says.

That benefits the nonprofits that receive the goods and gives the business good publicity. But there are some difficulties in matching supply with demand. That is where Good360 steps in. It is a website that helps match up nonprofit organizations with companies that are looking to get rid of their products. It also commissioned the IU research.

CEO Cindy Hallberlin says the organizations mostly serve large corporations but small businesses can take advantage of the program too.

“Let’s assume you are a small chain in Bloomington and you have three or four stores,” Halberin says. “We would be able to match you with local charities, vet the charities, explain to them the program and those charities could go by your local stores on a monthly basis or a bi-monthly basis to pick up your excess inventory.”

The researchers say most small businesses did not know about the financial benefits of donating extra products, so they hope the new research will help them take advantage of product donation as well.

Gretchen Frazee

Gretchen Frazee is a reporter/producer for WFIU and WTIU news. Prior to her current role, Frazee worked as the associate online content coordinator for WFIU/WTIU. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia where she studied multimedia journalism and anthropology. You can follow her on Twitter @gretchenfrazee.

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