New Longmont nonprofit helps other charities reach their missions
LONGMONT, Mar 25, 2012 (Daily Times-Call - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
While multimedia and video may be the next frontier, there's not always room in nonprofits' budget for expensive marketing.
Brian Brown wants to help change that.
Even though his video production company, BrownCow Productions, typically donated about $20,000 of pro-bono work each year for various nonprofits, Brown said he still had to turn away projects.
So, in February, he founded Community Connections of Colorado, a nonprofit that offers low-cost social media, marketing and video services for local charities. The organization is in the process of acquiring its federal nonprofit status.
"A lot of nonprofits are doing wonderful work with their missions, but the trouble is no one knows about it, and without telling that story, how would we know what they're doing?" said Brown, who lives in Estes Park.
To fund the fledgling nonprofit, Brown is relying on the high-end consignment store he and his wife, Darlene, have owned in Longmont since 2008. Formerly called The Orange Door, the shop has been renamed CeCi's Boutique, and proceeds from the business will go directly to charities.
Half the proceeds from consignments go back into Community Connections of Colorado to help cover rent for the building, staff salaries and the marketing work. The consignor receives 40 percent back and can either allocate the remaining 10 percent to a charity of his or her choice or it goes to CCC. Consignors can also opt to donate all their proceeds from a transaction to a nonprofit of their choice.
Each month, CeCi's partners with a different nonprofit, and Brown and his team produce a free short
video for the organization promoting its mission and success stories.
The first partner for March is the OUR Center, which provides basic needs assistance to low-income people. CeCi's is also hosting a food drive at the store to benefit the OUR Center.
The nearly three-minute video Brown's team donated highlights the organization's recent 25th anniversary milestone.
"It's well-done and professional, and quite honestly, for a nonprofit with not a huge marketing budget, it's really tremendous for us to have that kind of quality video," said OUR Center communications director Christine Marckesano.
In return for the free marketing, nonprofits drive business to CeCi's by reaching out to their vast networks of donors via email blasts, mailings lists, newsletters and social media sites.
"To me, the bottom line was what a win-win situation," said Emmy Anderson, development director for the Tiny Tim Center, a Longmont nonprofit that provides therapy and education for special needs and typical children. Tiny Tim is next month's Partner of the Month.
Going forward, Brown said, he hopes to partner with nonprofits and instruct their clients on retail training, basic computer skills and marketing. He said he'd also like to use CeCi's inventory to provide business attire for low-income women, much like the makeover show his video company produced in July 2010 called "Whole New U," which aired on Longmont Channel 8.
Nonprofits operating thrift stores isn't a new idea. The Longmont Humane Society runs the Second Change Thrift Store, Habitat for Humanity of the St. Vrain Valley has its ReStore Home Improvement Outlet, Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center has a store in Boulder, and proceeds from certain sales items at Savvy Seconds go to A Woman's Work.
But what separates Ceci's Boutique is that it's an upscale consignment shop, Brown said. As far as he knows, there's no other model in Boulder County for either the new nonprofit nor the use of the store.
"It's different," said Patricia Tryon, president of Community Connections' four-person board of directors. "And one of the reasons it's so different is because the multimedia and social media part of this is something that didn't exist in any significant way even five years ago. ... It's something that a lot of nonprofits haven't caught up to yet, and it's something that would help them get their message out there."
Magdalena Wegrzyn can be reached at 303-684-5274 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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