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Bartering to Beat Ovarian and Breast Cancer

Courtesy of BizX

Since 1996, Seattle’s Rivkin Center has aimed to improve women’s health by helping women prevent, detect, and survive ovarian cancer through various research-based efforts. The impact since then has been immense, with 224 research grants funded, over $14 million given to ovarian cancer researchers, and more than 31,000 women educated on the signs and symptoms of ovarian and breast cancer.

Though it is a joint partnership with Swedish Medical Center and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the Rivkin Center is a nonprofit. Trimming expenses where possible has always been part of the job description for Joe White, the center’s executive director.

When White started running the center, the previous executive director mentioned the concept of bartering but wasn’t sure how to incorporate it into the business. When he met Bob Bagga, the founder of BizX, the possibilities immediately broadened in White’s mind.

In total, the Rivkin Center has generated more than $409,000 in new donations and revenue from bartering that it wouldn’t have had otherwise. The center has been able to then use those funds to pay for expenditures such as operating expenses that ultimately frees up more cash to go directly toward research.

“BizX has built a community using an alternative form of currency that can be just as effective as cash,” White said, adding that he has primarily used the platform to solicit BizX dollars for their annual auction.

For example, the Rivkin Center has spent BizX funds on items for the production of events including valet parking and vacation packages for auction. Recently White was able to get new carpet for its offices from another BizX member which otherwise would have cost $13,000.

The Rivkin Center is different than the majority of organizations using BizX. As a non-profit, White says, it has “nothing to sell except its mission,” and has worked with Bagga on combing through BizX’s vast community to identify businesses who may want to get involved in the auctions.

“Sometimes people have a hard time getting their head around the concept of a barter system, but I remind them that it’s the world’s oldest form of payment,” White said. “Once you understand it, it’s quite simple.”

White noted that over the last three years leading up to this fall’s virtual auction, the Rivkin Center has set records for how much money was raised — all going toward the life-saving efforts that the center was founded for.