Twice a year the Austin Creative Reuse board spends a few days reviewing the activities and outcomes of the organization and creates plans for the next 6 months. These plans allow the board to focus the actions of the board and other volunteers as well as to ensure that we make progress but don’t over commit our resources. Austin Creative Reuse is currently all volunteer run and while there are many exciting opportunities, we want to make sure we take on only what we have the capacity to do.
The organization is guided by three strategic goals:
- Operate with transparency, evidence-based practices, and collaborative processes to be an efficient and effective non-profit organization that balances the needs of all stakeholders. Stakeholders: Customers, Volunteers, Employees, Material Donors, Financial Donors, Community, Environment
- Be a self-sustaining and scalable non-profit organization
- Be a resource for the Austin and Reuse communities that provides programs that utilize or support the creative use of repurposed and discarded materials.
Our Year End report is being created and will be released in the coming months.
Below are updates on key areas of the organization:
Finances and Accounting
Financial health is good right now, sales have been steadily increasing and we’re conservatively budgeting to maintain our current sales level through next fiscal year (April 2016 – March 2017).
Considering the strong financial picture and the need for more help in the store, we’ve added ACR’s first employee to next year’s budget. It’s a big step, both financially and emotionally. ACR is growing up! The board is excited about the coming year and the additional services we hope to implement.
Gift cards are coming soon! We’ll have ACR gift cards available shortly – they’ll easily work with Square (both loading balances and using for purchases) and are reloadable, so encourage customers to reuse those cards! We’ll take $0 balance gift cards back and reload them for someone else.
Now that we have achieved our goal of opening the center, we will focus our fundraising efforts on supporting operational and programming needs. Top fundraising priorities for 2016 are: securing a Community Initiative Grant, holding either an annual fundraiser or a series of smaller-scale events, and the holiday campaign.
There was discussion and initial planning around having periodic in-store fundraising efforts targeting various programming/operational needs. We also discussed making community impact statements more often to keep public/volunteers informed. Updates were made to board fundraising responsibilities and commitments to be more action-oriented.
We reviewed the results of the Open House for Educators and other updates from the educator committee. The most popular need that Educators requested from Austin Creative Reuse was to hold “Brainstorm Nights,” where educators from all over the city who teach similar grade-levels and subjects could meet in the Center to share ideas for reuse lessons. The committee is discussing how this can be implemented in a sustainable way. The committee will also be looking for grant opportunities to assist with programming, planning a similar Open House event for August, and working to build an online community of educators.
We created a sustainability committee with Cory Skuldt as committee chair. We completed and passed a Sustainability Vision and Policy to assist in our efforts to walk our talk and. It can be viewed on our site below our core values statement here. The core mission and work of Austin Creative Reuse is proactively increasing sustainability – this policy helps to guide our efforts embedding sustainable practices into every aspect of our operations. Austin Creative Reuse applied for Austin Green Business Certification, and was certified at the highest level (Platinum). Cory is representing Austin Creative Reuse on the AISD Environmental Stewardship Advisory Committee, advocating for reuse as a pillar of AISD’s sustainability plan. In addition, the committee will focus on relationships with other environmental organizations like the Austin Materials Marketplace, The Reuse Alliance Texas and the Austin Zero Waste Alliance.
Center Operations Committee
Our Creative Reuse Center has been open for business for 6 months now and every week, small changes and additions are made to our operating procedures to improve our workflow. At this time, the process of Weigh/Sort/Price takes up the vast majority of our volunteer effort. We’ve found that microsorting of small items is a big part of our process but one that brings lots of value back into the items that are donated. Turning that mixed bag of buttons, beads and writing instruments into cohesive bags of art/craft supplies is a lot of work!
We’ve arranged our center into thoughtful sections to make it easier to shop but we are seeing a real need to define “champions” or “owners” for all sections. These volunteers would be responsible for making each section look sharp and easy to shop. When we sell out of one item, containers need to be pulled and new inventory in its place. Prices need to be re evaluated on a regular basis. Items that are unique or high quality need to featured. Moving inventory around also makes it fun for our weekly shoppers. It helps them to see materials that might have gotten overlooked.
Next big challenge is to offer workshops and classes. We have the space, materials, tools and even some artists/crafters interested in heading up these workshops. Things we still need to define are cost, advertising, timing but most importantly, volunteer resources. We are looking to turn our current Tuesday Volunteer Activities Night into a regular Create Night.
In addition, we’ve found two volunteers with significant summer camp experience. We hope to work with them to define at least 1 summer camp for kids.
Board Nominating Committee
The board has several member updates. Rebecca continues to be our President and Carole is Vice-President. Cindy renewed her board commitment for three years and does a great job leading our fundraising efforts. Leslie heads up the educator committee while juggling a new baby and another one on the way!
Cory is our newest member and recently built a sustainability policy for the center. She will be our chair for the board sustainability committee. Katy is our board treasurer and she just completed her three year term. We are grateful for her service and happy that she will stay with us another year and assist in finding a great new treasurer. Michele is interim board secretary but will be leaving the Austin area this summer and relocating to Florida for new job opportunities.
We are excited to grow our board and we are communicating with several interested people. In addition, we are planning to put out a call for board applications later this spring. Michele will be the contact person for anyone with questions about joining the board.
Sharing information and growing community is vital to the success of the organization. We are continuing our efforts on social media (Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin, Meetup) and Google pages and Yelp. We have a google grant and have adword campaigns running to continue to promote the organization. We are in search of a volunteer to take on sending out our email newsletters and a volunteer to assist with web updates.
We are planning an upgrade to our website and while we figure out the new theme and navigation for the site, we will continue to make small improvements to enhance our visitors experience.
While developing Austin Creative Reuse over the past few years, we participated at many events to build awareness of the organization. For the next six months, we are limiting our participation at events in order to concentrate our time and effort on the operations of the volunteer center. We are still in need of volunteers that can assist consistently at the center.