Category: Trends and Society

Identifying Opportunities: Giving While Saving

Our intention to donate usually far outweighs our practice, both personally and professionally. But the solution to giving more doesn’t have to be overly complicated. It can simply mean giving better. Sometimes the most beneficial way a company can contribute positively to their community can actually benefit their bottom line.

The old adage one person’s garbage is another person’s treasure is especially true for a Toronto based junk removal company. A little while ago, a company that I worked for closed down. When the junk removers came into disassemble and remove the cubicles I asked where they would be going. “To the dump” was the answer. Some of the cubicles hadn’t even been used –and now they were garbage. Knowing what valuable commodity office furniture is for organizations with tight budgets, I knew the cubicles could have been used elsewhere. However, that would require someone, probably me, to call a number of places to find who could use the cubicles, then arrange for delivery and maybe even provide set up.

Services in Action, a resource centre for charities, has built a partnership with other junk removers to address this problem. Each day they pick up unwanted items from businesses and homes. When they come across items that are gently used, they refer to a list of the current needs outlined by local shelters and community centres. If the item is not needed right away, they can put it in their storage facility. One of the most difficult steps for charities managing in kind donations is finding a truck to pick up or drop off items, something the junk removal company can do very easily. And what’s in it for the junk removers? They can reduce their dump fees and keep gently used items from going to landfills.

When you are deciding how corporate social responsibility fits into your strategy, talk to local charities to learn more about what they do and how they could benefit from something you are already doing. Critically evaluate what you do, what you produce, and who could benefit.

To help you evaluate and understand what you have to offer, contact us. A simple conversation may greatly impact your bottom line.

Evaluating and Measuring Success

Where Are Your Measureable Markers?

Success is a positive outcome to a project. Establishing measurable criteria for a project is essential to knowing if it is successful.

While working with a large Canadian charity, a Toronto based group of fundraisers was charged with hosting a successful fundraising event. Naturally, the success of this type of event is determined by the amount of money that is raised and establishing intermediate markers along the way helped the group know if they were on track.

The event was for teams of eight people from local businesses, to raise money through pledges. The fundraising goal was $20,000. Based on previous experience, teams raise approximately $2,000 or $250 per person. That means ten teams would have to register for this upcoming event. Teams that register with less than two weeks to collect pledges usually only raise $1000 in funds. Teams with more than six weeks, typically raise over $3000.

To cultivate interest the fundraising group came up with a unique approach: they would go to local businesses and drop off an irresistible invitation. The idea, invitation and concept were unique and the group was expecting a great outcome. The plan was outlined, the invitations printed and the drop-off was set. As expected, the advertising technique was well received and many business cards were collected. The goal was ten teams, so thirty companies were approached nine weeks before the event. As the date of the event crept closer, no one had registered. Despite the early enthusiasm, by week five, no one showed interest in participating in the event. The critical decision had to be made. They would need three teams to register for the next three weeks to ensure the fundraising goal would be achieved. Since there was no one showing interest, the group had to decide if they should approach more people, or cancel the event.

The idea was brilliant, the team was hard-working and enthusiastic, but the measureable criteria, in this case the number of teams, did not meet the target. In fact, this much effort spent on previous events had raised $30,000 – a much better return on investment. This new approach was not successful and needed to be replaced. Not wanting to waste any more time, the group took immediate action using a tried and tested approach and met their goal.

When you are establishing goals and drafting the plans that will take you there, it is important to set measurable markers along the way. This will mitigate surprises and allow you to adjust your strategy to ensure the end goal is met. Start by identifying the goal and move backwards through the dates and action items. Then you will know day by day and week by week if you are on track. Do not wait until the project is over to realize it was not successful, and don’t assume just something seems like a good idea that it is the best way to achieve the goal.

Expensive donations

An article recently published in the Edmonton Sun draws attention to the uncomfortable question commonly faced by charities -when is it okay to say “no, thank you” to a donation? With constant scrutiny charities are held to a very high standard of graciousness. What many donors don’t realize is their donations are not always helpful. Edmonton’s Good Will spent $257,000 on garbage fees last year for donations that were unusable.

2011-12-21: Here’s a recent article with a similar story found here.