Greg Duncan has watched his Durham nonprofit, the Center for Child & Family Health, grow from 33 employees to 84 in just nine years.
His mental health organization expanded in order to provide more services to families and help prevent and treat childhood trauma. But with that growth came more pressing office needs – more desks, bookshelves and computers.
Duncan became a repeat visitor to Duke Surplus, a warehouse of used furniture and supplies from departments across Duke University and Duke University Health System. Since Duncan represented a nonprofit, he was able to peruse rows of desks and bookshelves that he could cart off for free and give to his new employees.
“We did not have the money to pay for the equipment we were going to need if we were going to grow,” Duncan said about his early years with Center for Child & Family Health. “Duke Surplus became our Santa Claus. We literally have picked up about $60,000 worth of furniture, supplies and equipment. They make it possible for us to grow and provide more services to the Durham community and hopefully make more of a difference.”
Duke Surplus opens its Durham warehouse twice a week to Duke departments as well as any organization with a nonprofit designation such as 501(c)(3). The program has provided free furniture, supplies and equipment to nonprofits since 2007, and the Duke Surplus team has worked with about 600 local organizations to try and meet their needs.
Nonprofits are notified about open donation days through an email listserv, and nonprofits can sign up to be on this listserv by contacting email@example.com. During certain hours, organizations can visit “The Cage,” a fenced area of the surplus warehouse that contains desks, chairs, bookshelves, bulletin boards, books and more.
“In any given week, it empties out, it fills back up,” said Mary Crawford, Duke’s senior director of Procurement and Supply Chain, about “The Cage.” “We’re gearing up nonprofits for success, especially startups. They can come here and outfit an entire space at no cost.”
The Duke Surplus program has provided boxes of office supplies to Crayons2Calculators, a nonprofit that gives free school supplies to Durham Public Schools teachers. The program has also partnered with TROSA, a long-term, residential substance abuse recovery program that also manages a local moving and storage service, to deliver hundreds of pieces of Duke residence hall furniture to the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics as well as funnel some of the furniture back into TROSA. Jeff Stern, TROSA’s director of business operations, said one year, TROSA refurnished 100 rooms on TROSA’s Durham campus with residence hall furniture from Duke.
“It’s great to be working between Duke, the School of Science and Math, and TROSA, to have all three of these nonprofits working together to figure out the best use of these items so things aren’t just going to a landfill,” Stern said.
About three months ago, the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association, an environmental nonprofit working to protect and restore Ellerbe Creek in Durham, wanted to replace its old office chairs.
“I just went in and was able to browse whatever (Duke Surplus) had,” said Russell Snyder, the association’s stewardship and educational program outreach coordinator. “We now have four office chairs that are all matching. They look brand new.”
Nonprofits that are interested in learning about Duke Surplus warehouse days, when organizations can peruse free, used furniture and supplies, can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Organizations visiting the warehouse for the first time will have to provide proof of nonprofit status. Also, nonprofits that are interested in receiving free, used computers and electronics must fill out a donation request application. Email email@example.com for the application.
Calling all Duke Departments!
Duke departments can help Duke University and Duke University Health System maintain its commitment to recycling and reuse by following the mandated surplus property guidelines through Duke Surplus.
Using Duke’s Online Surplus Asset Disposition Tool, Duke departments log all surplus items to generate a pick-up request. Duke Surplus receives all surplus items, tracks and coordinates donations, and ensures donations are appropriately valued with proper liability release forms.