THE BUY NOTHING PROJECT

You will hear me mention the Buy Nothing Project in many of my posts about how to keep costs down when setting up and/or adding to your VIPKid classroom. I thought that I should write a post explaining more about what the Buy Nothing Project actually is…

WHAT IS THE BUY NOTHING PROJECT?

The Buy Nothing Project (BNP) is a social movement, housed on Facebook, where people give and receive freely. Members post requests for gifts, usually with some sort of explanation about why it is needed, and then other members fulfill those requests. People will also post items that they are looking to gift to someone.

When someone asks for a gift, it is asked that members do NOT give recommendations for where to find things in the community (anyone can search Google for that). The BNP is a gift economy and they ask that the needs be fulfilled within the group, not outsourced to other places .

There are chapters of the BNP all over the country, and even across the globe! You can only participate in ONE official BNP Facebook group at a time and you must live within the geographical boundaries for that group. This is to help build a feeling of community, like in the “good old days” when you were comfortable asking your neighbor for a cup of sugar. 🙂

HOW DO I FIND MY LOCAL BNP GROUP?

Just head over to this page to find your local group. If you don’t see one listed, you also have the option to start an official group!

HOW CAN A BNP GROUP HELP MY VIPKID CLASSROOM?

Oh, goodness! There are so many ways that the generous community of the BNP can help you build your VIPKid classroom. Do you have a need for a particular prop? Do you need a gift of someone’s time and vinyl cutter to help you create a cute shirt for teaching? Do you want someone to help you recreate a crocheted Dino that you’ve seen on Instagram? The options are endless!

I actually found the Buy Nothing Project when I posted on my personal Facebook page a request for suggestions on where to buy mooncakes during Mid-Autumn Festival. A friend told me that someone was gifting some on the “Buy Nothing Site.” I had no idea what she was talking about at the time, but she helped me get set up and I was the lucky recipient of mooncakes to use in my classroom. My students were very surprised!

There is definitely some etiquette that goes along with being part of the BNP, so I have some tips to help you make the most of your time in your group:

  • BE GENEROUS. Give as often as you can! Participating in the group only when you need something is not a very good way to join this community. It will make it difficult for your needs to be filled when something comes up. Think of it as that one annoying relative who only calls you when they need something. Don’t be that person!
  • BE RESTRAINED. In addition to posting requests, members of the BNP will post items that they would like to gift to someone else. The person posting has complete decision-making control over who they gift to; it is not the first person who posts “interested.” Well, as you probably know, basically EVERYTHING can be used as a prop for VIPKid. I suggest exhibiting restraint and not commenting that you are interested in everything that’s posted as “up for grabs.”
  • BE TRANSPARENT. Since your requests are technically for your “business,” it is important that you are transparent about why you are asking for something. BNP members LOVE to hear more about how their potential gifts will be used. When posting a request, include a fun picture of you in your classroom so they can get an idea of what you do!
  • BE PUNCTUAL. Once you make arrangements to pick up a gift, don’t forget to actually pick it up! I’ve found that BNP members are understanding that life happens, but they at least expect communication if you’re not able to pick up something in a timely manner. Over time, a lack of punctuality and dependability can really wear on group members. So pick things up when you say you will!
  • BE GRATEFUL. After receiving a gift, it is always appreciated when BNP members do a quick gratitude post, showing the gift in use.
  • BE CAREFUL. As we are all aware, VIPKid is known for being a referral-focused company. Make sure that your posts do not read as a fishing expedition for referrals. Consider what it would look like if a Beachbody coach posted something like “I’ve lost SO much weight with this new program I’m trying, that I am in need of smaller clothes.” If someone DOES ask you for more information about your line of work, tread lightly! I would not recommend answering any questions publicly, for sure. I also would not send anyone private messages. If someone wants to contact YOU directly, that’s on them, but you don’t want break any rules about endorsing businesses or soliciting.

HOW SHOULD I REQUEST GIFTS FOR MY VIPKID CLASSROOM?

So, with those quick tips in mind, here is how you could request gifts for your VIPKid classroom:

  • First, join the group and gift as freely as you can prior to making any requests. This isn’t necessary by any means, but it’s appreciated.
  • Then, make a list of what you REALLY need to get your classroom set up.
  • Prepare a post to explain that you have recently taken on a new job to help pay off your family’s debt and that you would like to get your classroom space set up with as little overhead cost as possible. I think that this is very important! Some gifters might not be interested in helping someone set up their “business,” so it is good to be transparent about this!
  • Include one of your fun profile pictures or even a picture of what your somewhat-blank classroom space looks like.
  • Provide a specific, bullet-point list of what you need and why.
  • After gifts have been received, follow up with a picture of your enhanced classroom space, or a cute story of how the gifts were used. Anything to show your gratitude and build community!
  • I would also suggest editing your original request to indicate that you have been gifted certain items. Putting “NEED FULFILLED” or “GIFT RECEIVED” next to each line item you’ve been gifted is always helpful.
  • As other items are offered as gifts by members of the BNP community, don’t be afraid to ask! Just continue to be transparent about why you would want or need a specific item. I think you’ll find the generous members of the BNP will be excited to see how your classroom develops and will be happy to help contribute!
  • And one more reminder…this is NOT a platform for referring! Do not alienate the group with a “fishing expedition.”

The Buy Nothing Project is definitely unlike any other Facebook group I’ve ever joined. Each group is filled with generous people who love to share from their own abundance to those who could make use of their gifts. I think that this can be a wonderful resource for VIPKid teachers who are trying to set up their classrooms on a budget, as long as they are being transparent and generous community members.

I’d love to know: Are you a member of the Buy Nothing Project? Is there anything you would add to my list of tips for navigating a BNP group as a VIPKid teacher? Leave me a comment below!

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