Category Archives: software

Helping Habitat ReStore Sell Online

After retiring and satisfying my need to venture into the wilderness for a number of backpacking trips I have settled back into a volunteer role helping fulfill the mission of Swedemom Center of Giving, SCOG, by helping move our local Habitat ReStore forward with online sales. SwedemomLogoThis all started in 2015 when I helped startup MacHub which laid the groundwork for the SCOG dream. I departed for a year working in Washington and much progress occurred as MacHub became a Causal Hub for the Yamhill County Gospel Rescue Mission under the umbrella of Swedemom Center of Giving and McMinnville Habitat ReStore transitioned from a partial hub to become a full Causal hub. The SCOG mission has always been “To generate financial stability for all nonprofit organizations and ensure the success of their programs”. This has proven to be possible and I am fortunate to have found a way that I can be a part of this dream.

Swedemom provides specialized financial assistance to other nonprofits through the Swedemom LLC online sales platform which utilizes eBay and other similar online sales networks. Our nonprofit partners collect donations of quality goods, sell them on the nationwide Swedemom platform, and become self-sustaining hubs that generate funds for their charitable programs. The original Swedemom sales website is about to be replaced with options to allow the individual hubs to show their own items. This will be so valuable for the ReStore to have their own online sales presence.

ReStore-Online-Logo

I have joined the SCOG Board of Directors but my focus is on helping the McMinnville Habitat ReStore become a successful casual hub. They have been developing this hub since I was helping MacHub and they have been making consistent progress with a the prospect of a huge upside potential. The ReStore model is a perfect fit, they have a donations intake operation that can easily expand beyond just taking in building and home items. For the last couple of months I have been providing consistency for running the ReStore Hub which in turn has given me a working perspective on the overall effort needed to be successful. Many of you may know how to sell items on eBay, however, taking it to a inventory based operation with daily sales fulfillment requires an organizational commitment.

We have a long way to go to fine tune the Swedemom model but we have the people and enough resources to guarantee success. Helping Habitat for Humanity fulfill their dream to create “A world where everyone has a decent place to live” does resonate with my passion. This is “Way Cool”, stay tuned as we get ready to setup more Habitat ReStore Hubs in Oregon.

Helping to Launch MacHub

I’m finished backpacking for a while so I have some time before I jump back into the IT world of higher education. This gives me the opportunity to volunteer full-time in support of a worthy non-profit that is based on selling donated items online so that the proceeds can go to a designated charity. It is called MacHub and it was all made possible because the successful online sales business, Swedemom, transitioned into this non-profit version. I had no idea that I would end up helping MacHub, it could be that  God had His hand on this and maybe He is calling in a favor for saving my life on the Lost Coast Trail earlier this month.

There is no doubt that this MacHub venture is a great idea, but success will take some hard work and discipline. There are all kinds of charity selling models that work for the local demographics. But what if you had an option to get top value for your donations by selling it online to an international market. Of course this concept was made possible by the eBay online selling model, but anyone who has sold on eBay knows that it is not that simple. MacHub has been discovered rather quickly here in McMinnville, OR, which means that managing growth has already become a problem. MacHub benefits include more then just cash for charities, jobs for the homeless is also an outcome. But it is a business that must control expenses so that the realized proceeds for the Charity will justify the effort.

Success for MacHub does appear to be inevitable. The transition of assets from Swedemom and the use of their sophisticated database and sales processing software is invaluable. Combine that with a community that immediately rallied around the concept thanks to strong support from the local Newspaper, a small grant and a parent organization, Yamhill County Gospel Rescue Mission, YCGRM, plus dedicated people and you have a winning formula. And as my departed mentor, Bill Mitchell, used to advise, the goal only needs to be to “Do Good”. 

What is really cool about this business model is that the donors can become partners. The simplest option is for a donor to just drop off items similar to the Goodwill model so that the proceeds can help cover the costs of the MacHub expenses. But a donor typically will designate the charity to receive the proceeds from the sale of their items, and they can get an account to actually check the status and validate the donation value for IRS purposes. Any organization can qualify to be a partner of varying levels based on the the amount of item preparation work they want to provide.

We are now working out the details for establishing an umbrella organization that will handle the administrative duties to ensure that the software continues to be developed and is maintained. The need for an umbrella non-profit is due to the interest by other organizations around the country wanting to start their own version of MacHub. We currently have a pilot version in Chicago that is more of a single charity supporting a large homeless shelter and one near St. Louis that is a community model like Mac Hub.

Be Supportive not Restrictive

I was outside recently watching our Research Support Student employees fly our helicopter drone over campus capturing some great autumn video.

Abby

Abby

I also had my dog, Abby, with me since I designated it to be “bring your dog to work friday”. Well Abby was generating some interest from students homesick for their pets while I got into a conversation with a couple of our IT Support Services Student employees about their programming ideas. These ideas come from our encouragement for our student employees to explore ways that we might improve our business processes. The idea was about a web app that the student workers could use to trade shifts with their coworkers. The gist of the conversation quickly focused on their perception that IT only recommended development based on Perl. Well he mentioned this to the right guy, actually the boss, but really what a ridiculous perception that obviously had roots from the past. But that type of preferential influence will not fly today.

Perl does have a significant development presence here and there is nothing wrong with Perl, but that should not dictate the requirements of future development. The student asked if he could develop in PHP but was told that PHP was not secure. Well maybe that a general statement with some merit but probably not of concern for a student employment shift sharing application. The student actually wanted to use Python and then our conversation steered toward new ideas like the possibility that WordPress might be utilized. My major point with bringing this up is that we in IT have to be cognizant of the influence we convey and that our way is not the only way. IT should remember when they were the radical adopters of new application platforms. Consider the fights they must have had with cobol and fortran proponents.

30 Years Since Visicalc

This week marks the 30 year anniversary for the release of Visicalc, the software application that launched the micro-computer industry. Maybe most remembered for the fact that the author’s never patented visicalc and saw the idea turned into a fortune by Lotus 123. The first true Open Source release unfortunately ahead of its time.

%d bloggers like this: