What do you do with 200 used chairs?
That was the type of issue Darla King, founder of King Business Interiors, often ran into with her clients. King Business Interiors consults about, and purchases, commercial furnishings and flooring for companies large and small. Its customers face the challenge of getting rid of their old, free-standing bulk furniture when ordering new. The furniture is typically in good condition; usually the client is simply changing color schemes, updating, or in need of a new furniture configuration.
It’s not everyday a business gets to take a problem it faces and turn it into a positive, but King Business Interiors was able to do just that. King Business Interiors started Connecting the Dots in 2004 to take surplus used furniture from their clients and donate it to local nonprofits.
It all started when King had a problem with an order she placed for one of her clients. The design for the client’s office called for 100 navy blue chairs. However, the manufacturer sent her 100 black chairs.
King contacted the factory to inquire about returning the chairs and securing the correct ones since it was a manufacturer error. She was told the correct chairs would be shipped, and to keep the chairs and donate them to a nonprofit instead of shipping them back. Thus Connecting the Dots was conceived.
Since the program’s inception, King has incorporated it into her furniture selling business. For her employees, it fosters a conversation they can have with clients about a service King Business Interiors’ competitors don’t offer.
“It has come back tenfold,” says King. “It’s a soft sell and benefits all of us. We get exposure to so many people, I free up space in the warehouse, and it helps the nonprofit organization appear more professional while focusing on their mission and programs.”
SWACO and the Furniture Bank of Central Ohio have been big supporters and drive a lot of traffic to Connecting the Dots by letting people know King Business Interiors takes used office furniture. King receives two or three phone calls a day about the program from the exposure those two organizations give her.
Connecting the Dots has been able to help 50 to 60 nonprofits over the years.
Recreation Unlimited, Amethyst, and New Directions Career Center really helped spread the word about the program after it assisted them, King says.
When asked for her advice to other businesses interested in starting a philanthropic program, King is adamant: “Do it. Just do it. Find a way to make it work and find a cheerleader who wants to manage it. Everyone should have it in their plan to give back to the community in their own way.”
Philanthropic Pursuit is a monthly feature on The Metropreneur, powered by Community Shares of Mid Ohio. Is your business giving back to the community or partnering with a local nonprofit in a unique way? We want to hear about it. Contact Ryan Kovalaske at firstname.lastname@example.org.