Windfall: Strategic Planning for Sustainable Revenue-Generating Venture

Windfall, a charity dedicated to providing basics such as clothing and personal care items to the underprivileged, engaged Endeavour to help to determine how it could best leverage its success in selling donated bridal gowns to support its core mission of providing basic necessities. Due to the lack of existing data, Endeavour completed a full assessment by facilitating interviews and surveys, participating in field visits, and conducting secondary research. Endeavour recommended a comprehensive plan to Windfall consisting of a pricing strategy, product mix, channels, donor program, and inventory and volunteer systems which have since helped Windfall turn the bridal sales into a sustainable source of revenue.

About the Client

Windfall is a charity that re-distributes new clothing, personal care items and other goods from Canadian retailers and manufacturers, to those who need it most. Windfall partners with over 100 social services agencies in the Greater Toronto Area to distribute the donated items to recipients that range from the homeless, to the disabled, to those who are stepping into their first jobs or interviews. In addition to providing basic necessities to the underprivileged, Windfall’s work also helps save our environment by keeping the donations out of landfill and into the rightful hands.

Windfall makes a difference in the lives of Canadians by:

“In the end, the Endeavour volunteers produced an incredibly professional and thorough strategic plan that we have already put in place. Their recommendations were smart and very clear, enabling us to implement them easily and with great success.”

Helen Harakas, Executive Director, Windfall

  • Fostering human dignity in providing access to good clothing and personal use items
  • Increasing awareness of poverty as a social issue.

The Project

An Endeavour consulting team was brought in to develop a strategic plan and determine the most optimal business model for a bridal gown operation that would serve as a source of sustainable revenue to support Windfall’s programs.

The Need

Bridal gowns were one of the donations frequently received by Windfall. However, they were not needed by the recipients and clients, as there is an urgent need for more basic necessities. However, in order to make use of theses donations, Windfall decided to sell the gowns.

After running three bridal events with an average of $7,695 of sales per event, Windfall engaged Endeavour to assess the best revenue generator from three options– the bridal event, individual client appointments, and participation in the Distillery District’s bridal show.

The challenge was to set up and run the bridal operation to bring in sustainable revenue for the charity, while considering resource limitations and other constraints.

The Work

Windfall

Endeavour volunteer consultants with Windfall Executive Director and staff

The Endeavour consulting team started off by breaking their investigation and research into multiple phases, beginning with the current state analysis, rounding it off with final proposals, both supported by data gathering and analysis.

The Planning

Along with building an enthusiastic Endeavour team, discussions for project scope and determining client expectations took place at this stage.

In addition, the Endeavour team’s Statement of Work proposed to investigate the current state of Windfall with a breakdown of their operations and business model. The investigation of the operations panned out from the inventory procurement to their sales. This highlighted the constraints and limitations of the charity, as well as brought out the strengths the charity could leverage.

“Endeavour consultants…were a very diverse group of people – had different cultural backgrounds, qualifications, age groups and gender … that diversity turned into a rich discussion and strong team that delivered great ideas.

The team commitment was met with an unparalleled support from Windfall. Windfall management was extremely cooperative and responsive with our questions and demands. We also appreciate Endeavour support throughout the project. On behalf of the team, thank you to both Windfall and Endeavour… thank you very much.”

Abdul Rahman Dabban, PMP, MBA
Project Manager, Prestige Telecom Inc.

The Analysis

The analysis phase was a key step, as capturing the Voice of the Customer (both ways) was the main issue towards providing any service or product. Here the Endeavour team identified and highlighted information from their investigation, which consisted of customer surveys, field visits, document examination and interviews. This established credibility in Endeavour’s work giving Windfall a strong motive to follow Endeavour’s recommendations.

Current state analysis

For this section, Endeavour needed to understand the charity – essentially, how it operated. As Windfall lacked history on trends and past information, this work formed an important foundation for everything else Endeavour would build upon.

Based on the data collected and various analyses, such as charity documentation reviews, market and competitive analysis, the team identified the following constraints:

  • Limited organizational resources – only four employees
  • Lack of information on previous customers and inventory trends.

Highlights from this phase:

  • Inventory Procurement occurs four months prior to the event by directly contacting the retailers or suppliers. The event takes place four times every year, which is their single highlighted sales event.
  • Inventory Management is not a formalized or established process, which is a major drawback. The lack of history limits the organization, as there are no trends to plan for future events.
  • The charity has used many types of marketing, but finds word-of-mouth to be the best.

“Learning about Windfall’s goals and business operations was fascinating. As an avid advocate of the benefits of social enterprise and self-sufficiency of non-profit organizations, I was really excited to tackle this project.

Working with our client, Cindy from Windfall, was a dream – she was excited, open, and shared lots of useful information and data, which made the work very interesting.”

Hima Batavia, Research Officer,
McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health

Proposed state analysis

After learning about the inner workings, it was important to understand the marketplace and business that the charity would be working and competing in. This phase allowed Endeavour to strengthen their final proposal to Windfall. Based on the market, Endeavour provided the proposal and strategy for Windfall to succeed in their initiative, given their strengths and weaknesses.

Business model analysis formed a key component of this phase. Three business models considered were:

  1. Brick and Mortar – with a specific retail location for the sales
  2. Consistent Event Scheduling, and
  3. Rotating Event Scheduling

Analysis of the market space allowed the team to determine what Windfall was working against. Further marketing analysis allowed the team to identify where Windfall should place itself.

Other highlights of this phase include:

  • The continuing trend for marriages provided the input to the success of Windfall’s proposed business.
  • There were many other providers of the same product. Windfall needed to address the causes for customer dissatisfaction with other providers to maximize their own customer pool. (In addition to for-profit competitors, there were also charity based competitors, such as Goodwill and the Salvation Army, who had similar established businesses, but offer a wider variety of products.)
  • 100% of customers were satisfied with the level of customer service, and 92% would recommend the Bridal Boutique to a friend.
  • Cost, variety, and social purpose ranked the highest, in terms of customer reasons for coming to Windfall.
  • Based on the above information, marketing initiatives had to be re-adjusted to cater to the specific markets, such as deal shoppers or do-gooder shoppers.

The Recommendation

All the work done in the previous phases contributed to the final proposal and strategy recommendations to Windfall. For the short-term, Endeavour recommended the business model that leveraged Windfall’s current resources, particularly transportation and storage. For the longer term, Endeavour also provided an analysis of other possible business models for Windfall to explore. Several marketing, procurement and inventory management initiatives were also recommended, along with an implementation plan and evaluation metrics.

Highlights of the recommendations are as follows:

  • A clear and simple pricing strategy to keep Windfall in the competitive game.
  • A specific product mix as a guideline to provide maximum revenue.
  • The re-adjustment of the marketing strategy to leverage the largest revenue generator of word-of-mouth, with the right messages and branding for the respective target markets.
  • The identification of other marketing channels for expansion and further visibility, and possibly breaking into other markets.
  • A formalized inventory process, where information is stored, and similarly, at a sale, associated information is obtained.
  • A formalized donor management process.
  • Leveraging the widely available pool of volunteers to overcome human resources issues.

The Impact

Helen Harakas, Executive Director of Windfall, had this to say about the Endeavour consulting engagement and team.

“In 2009, we began working with a group of exceptional volunteers from Endeavour. Their assignment was to develop a strategic plan for a self-sustaining discount bridal boutique on-site in our warehouse/office location. We needed help determining the best way to operate this boutique and to see if it could be turned into a source of annual revenue for our charitable programs.

The Endeavour volunteers worked tirelessly to develop our plan. They conducted an incredible amount of top quality research into the bridal industry. In addition, they physically came into our space to see it and to observe and interview our staff, our volunteers and our bridal customers during a warehouse sale. In the end, the Endeavour volunteers produced an incredibly professional and thorough strategic plan that we have already put in place. Their recommendations were smart and very clear, enabling us to implement them easily and with great success.

We greatly appreciate the quality of the work that the volunteers did on our behalf and we are so excited about working with them again on our upcoming initiative”

The Consulting Team

The Endeavour team working on the Windfall consulting engagement was made up of professionals from various industries as well as graduate students. The advisor for the project was Jane Zhang, who holds directorship positions in two different organizations, while contributing valuable time to Endeavour.

Project Advisor

Jane Zhang
Program Director, TechSoup Canada
Director, Corporate Social Responsibility, Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC)

Engagement Manager

Abdul Rahman Dabban, PMP, MBA, BSc in Electrical Engineering
Project Manager, Prestige Telecom Inc.

Consultants

Manpreet Singh, Bachelor of Engineering, MBA Candidate, 2010, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto
Hima Batavia, BSc, Research Officer, McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health
Romas Keliacius, Bachelor of Commerce, City of Mississauga, Transportation and Works, Finance & Operations
Chiara Lacey, BA, Ontario Science Centre, Corporate Development
Alex Rascanu, BBA Candidate, University of Toronto

Knowledge Broker

Jeannette Chan, BASc, Research and Investment Attraction, Toronto Region Research Alliance

Contributing Writers and Editors

Abdul Rahman Dabban, Engagement Manager, Endeavour
Helen Harakas, Executive Director, Windfall
Debbie Kelsall, Editor, Endeavour
Judith Lau, Director, Evaluation, Endeavour
Banu Raghuraman, Writer, Endeavour
Andrea Wong, President, Endeavour

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