How Online Booking Helps Pendleton Community Service Fund Support More Military Families

“We give everything away, free,” says Larry Sundram, Corporate Secretary for Pendleton Community Service Fund. Since 2004, PCSF has supported military families and homeless veterans with free furniture and housewares. Here’s how they do it.

From Idea to Warehouse-Sized Reality

Sundram’s wife Linda was the one who had the idea to support military families when she realized that some of the young families stationed at Camp Pendleton in California couldn’t afford household furnishings.

Larry and Linda Sundram

She formed a registered charity so she could issue tax receipts and started contacting affluent retirement communities to see if any tenants downsizing their properties had any furniture to donate. She purchased a box truck and began picking up these donations and giving them away for free — on a first-come, first-served basis.

“Persuading the military to permit us to help military families was the first hurdle,” says Larry. “We said that improving family morale would help the morale of the enlisted troops. The military eventually agreed and that made it easier for us to help families.”

Since those early days, things have grown considerably. The charity now has a large “Warrior Warehouse” of donated goods, a truck that does donation home pick-ups, and a corps of volunteers that run the entire operation.

Heroes Helping Heroes

“Aside from our Founder, our unsung heroes are our volunteers,” says Larry. “The truck driver and the people who staff the warehouse and help families find what they need.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, many of the donors and volunteers of PCSF are veterans themselves.

habitat for humanity donations

Making Every Volunteer Hour Count

To help make the best use of the generous donations of their volunteers’ time, Larry and Linda wanted an efficient way to manage the operation. George and Rhonda Kings of RethinkProcess volunteered their time to help source a software solution. They decided on Vonigo’s nonprofit donation software and added an online booking engine to the website.

The Sundrams were looking to solve three problems with their new software solution: reducing phone traffic, improving productivity, and eliminating ‘free riders,’ or people who would only donate sub-standard furniture. The latter was an easy fix. They now require a minimum $20 cash donation with every furniture pickup, to help cover the costs of fuel and meals for volunteers.

A Better Quality of Donor

In spite of now requiring a cash donation when someone wants furniture picked up, their overall number of furniture donations has increased. In fact, in the first quarter of 2019, their number of donation pickups are up 23% over last year. Meanwhile, their cash donations have increased by 250% for the same period.

Reduced Phone Traffic

“We were getting phone calls all hours of the day and night,” says Larry. “Donors would call to schedule pickups, then call again when drivers were late, then we had to call the drivers and get them to attend the pickup.”

“Our phone traffic is down 40% due to the client’s ability to make their own bookings,” says Larry. “And there’s no need for donors to call the dispatcher when drivers are late, they can call drivers directly.”

Improved Efficiency with Pickups

“We were diving in all sorts of irrational directions, often doubling back past our initial stop,” says Larry of their scheduling before they used Vonigo.

“Now we have five routes and incoming bookings are slotted into those routes and times. Pickups are made for all the donors in the same area. This reduces time, wasted fuel, and wear-and-tear on the truck. A dispatcher does not even need to advise drivers of pick-ups. Drivers use their smartphone.”

The Future of PCSF

Now that they are able to help so many families and have built an operation that is much bigger than themselves, the Sundram’s dream for the future is for PCSF to be their legacy. They are currently building a succession plan, to “find, understudy, and eventually replace our Founder,” says Larry of his tireless spouse.

With such a passionate community of volunteers around them, we hope the search won’t take long. Still, Linda leaves some mighty big boots to fill.

Nonprofit Donation Software for Charities like PCSF

Vonigo is proud to be the software tool for PCSG and many other charities that accept donations of physical goods. If you’d like to learn more about nonprofit donation software, book a free, private demo of Vonigo.