Karen Ramchuk is the Executive Director of a nonprofit called WINS: The Women in Need Society. They exist to help women and their families get out of poverty and start thriving. Normally, they run thrift stores that survive on donations, with all of the profit going straight into their programs.
When COVID hit, they had to pivot just like any other for-profit business. And it’s 100% why Karen believes every nonprofit should diversify before something like the coronavirus pandemic happens again.
How WINS pivoted during COVID
When the coronavirus pandemic hit in full force, WINS knew their usual resources for support would be struggling as well. So they pivoted and launched TWO new businesses. One was their “More Store,” where they sell thrift items sold in bulk. They sell every item for $1 or less. The best part? The more you buy, the lower the price goes.
Other retailers ramped up their online business. But listing individual thrift items doesn’t really work for their space. So they launched a subscription box called “Twice New by WINS.” You order the size and the style you’re interested in and the rest is a surprise. Every purchase helps a woman get on her feet. If what’s in the box doesn’t work for you, you can pay it forward to someone in need.
Dealing with a roller-coaster of demand
The demand for their programs has been a roller-coaster ride during the pandemic. They saw large drops in the numbers of women attending their programs when the numbers of coronavirus cases spiked. But as soon as the numbers lowered, the demand for help grew. At one point, they were up 80% from their normal numbers. Their normal numbers? They help 6,000 women and their families each year. Last year they helped a total of 17,000 people in need.
All not-for-profits need to diversify
COVID is the #1 reason why all nonprofits need to diversify their revenue streams. Karen believes that every not-for-profit needs to launch social enterprises. You don’t know what the future will hold with COVID and government funding. Who knows when the next pandemic or social unrest will happen. That’s why the diversification of revenue streams that your nonprofit depends on is so important.
Karen’s background allowed her to work within six different areas in one company before transitioning to WINS. She brought a diversified experience within a retailer to the table. Her experience there taught her to always look for available opportunities. When you see them, trust your gut and dive in quickly. Find an opportunity and make it happen as fast as you can. It’s the approach she took at WINS to get through COVID—and it’s paying off.
Karen just got off a peer-to-peer call with the Canadian Women’s Foundation to hear updates about how other organizations in the area are adapting to the changing market. Karen is always available via email, phone call, and LinkedIn to offer support and help. If you want to learn more about WINS and how to market a nonprofit, listen to episode #13 of the Content Callout podcast!