Dons Solidaires: “Give, don’t destroy. Use, don’t waste.“
Île-de-France - Saint-Germain-En-Laye
Social ties in priority neighbourhoods
Since 2004, the associative platform Dons Solidaires has collected unsold non-food products and redistributed them to associations fighting exclusion and poverty.
“We are the equivalent of a food bank for basic necessities other than food,”explains Sandrine Beaudoin, head of donor relations. “What we do is collect unsold goods from manufacturers – goods that would be thrown away – and redistribute them to charities all over France.” These goods are personal hygiene products (razors, shower gels, shampoo), household cleaning products (laundry soap, household products), small appliances (dryers, irons), and even school supplies. Often unaffordable for small budgets, these donations allow disadvantaged people to improve their daily lives and help with their social integration.
Throughout the year, the volunteers and staff of Dons Solidaires visit the beneficiary associations. “This gives meaning to our acts,” insists Sonia Rodrigues, head of logistics. “The challenge is to match opportunities to collect unsold goods with associations’ needs. We offer a catalogue of products and associations order from us.” With one condition, specifies Dominique Besançon, head of association relations: “beneficiary structures promise in turn to redistribute the products for free to their beneficiaries.”
For instance, the Grains de Soleil social centre in Chanteloup-les-Vignes, in the Yvelines, calls on Dons Solidaires, notably for the Christmas holidays and start of the school year. “A back-to-school kit was distributed to 90 children in the commune. School supplies are always lacking. This allows poor families to save money and use it for something else,” says Mounir Satouri, general director of the social centre. Thanks to 35 partner companies, Dons Solidaires redistributed more than 7 million euros worth of products to 150 charitable associations reaching nearly 250,000 beneficiaries in all in 2011. In the space of five years, Dons Solidaires has tripled its activity.
Logistics: the cornerstone of distribution
To cope with its necessary growth, Dons Solidaires decided to call on the VINCI Foundation to help set up a new integrated management computer system. Excel spreadsheets and small spiral notebooks have been a thing of the past since January 2012. “The association was able to make the switch from artisanal to industrial operations,”notes Hervé Chariot, quality director for Eurovia, a subsidiary of the VINCI Group in Rueil-Malmaison, and project sponsor. “My role was to advise the association on the definition of the right specifications, integrate the most suitable data, ensure technical roll out, and optimise overall logistical operations,” explains Hervé Chariot, who promised his assistance starting with the design phase for the new management tool, financed in large part with the support granted by the VINCI Foundation in July 2011 (€25,000). "I meet with the association once a month and will stay present in 2012 to ensure that everything is working properly,” says the sponsor. This support allows the association to develop other “special” operations, such as “Femmes en Fête” that will give women in precarious situations makeup so they can make themselves pretty for the spring.
January 2012 © Reporters d'Espoirs news agency
VINCI Foundation works with Reporters d'Espoirs, a French news agency, to highlight and share the innovative social initiatives that it supports. The arrangement includes the writing of articles and exchange on topics that lead to solutions. Thus presented, the initiatives, validated using the criteria of the editorial charter of Reporters d'Espoirs, are intended to demonstrate their development and results.