The ZeSaBo-Principle

A sustainable, voluntary, resource saving project, providing a practical solution to supply needs in the present and the future.

How the ZeSaBo began

At the end of 2015, there was an urgent need within the Bonn refugee relief organisations to relieve the donation and distribution points and clothing stores at refugee accommodation facilities and also to support other facilities, which did not have their own clothing stores. Thus the plan was developed to centralise the donation collection and to distribute the goods among recipients as needed in designated locations. A direct distribution to refugees was not provided.

On March 1, 2016, in cooperation with the development partners City of Bonn, DeutschePostDHL, German Red Cross and the Parish of St. Petrus, the central donation centre (Bonn) was opened in the former post sorting office in Bonn North. With an area of 700 m², volunteers were available for three days a week to accept donations which were then checked, sorted, stored and passed on to organisations and registered volunteers for distribution.

At the end of our first year, the ZeSaBo had registered more than 5,700 volunteer hours, around 200 organisations and individuals were registered to distribute, and, with over 63,000 items distributed, it had covered more than 80% of the needs identified by the recipients. At that time, the inventory remained at a high level and the willingness to donate from the general population and from businesses had increased steadily. As of 1 March 2017, therefore, a decision was made to extend the distribution beyond refugees to include other needy members of the community.

After 28 months, the ZeSaBo closed on June 30, 2018 with the following results:

  • By the end of the project the number of registered distributors had increased to over 350 who were, according to their own information, taking care of more than 15,000 people
  • Among others, these included City of Bonn employees, German Red Cross, AWO, Johanniter, Caritas, Diakonie, Salvation Army, Parish Administrations, and aid organizations such as Pro Familia, the Bonner Tafel or Kinderschutzbund
  • Of the registered distributors, 80% are volunteers
  • Brand new donated goods were received with a total value of over 85,000€ (including 27 pallets of toiletries with a value of more than 34,000€))
  • A steadily rising number of items collected for distribution of more than 5,000 items per week
  • A consistent volunteer effort with a total of over 17,000 volunteer hours worked.
  • Well over 200,000 distributed items
  • Continuous and high-quality donations received from the general public
  • A high level of interest in both donating and helping from educational institutions and companies

Motivation to continue

The time-limited project financed by the development partners ceased with  the end of the tenancy at the former sorting office provided by DeutschePostDHL. The final evaluation and the unanimous feedback from donors, helpers, distributors, development and cooperation partners, as well as various awards and positive media reports, all demonstrate the success of ZeSaBo.

For this reason, ZeSaBo e.V., founded on June 9, 2018, undertook the task of revising the concept, assuming the role of tenant and operator, and reopening the central warehouse for donations at a new location.