Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Charitable Struggle

This is a risky topic, because Pfoodman is a charitable place. And we have all sorts of initiatives whereby we help raise money for groups in need. Name it, the Arthritis foundation, the MS Society, Trailnet, Covenant House, Youth in Need, Emais Homes, I have been doing this for quite a while and to me, giving is a part of our social responsibility. In other words, I think each business should give something, to someone other than themselves and/or their employees, just to keep the ball rolling. I figured out long ago that giving can become part of a marketing program and strategic. Strategic Philanthropy, no kidding, read about it here.

In my charitable gigs, I give away catering "in kind" so I can help those organizing events raise a more net proceeds. Sometimes the wife and I will make a cash donation. I am criticized by my fellow "caterers" this way, because, I am told, that I erode a bit of the market by doing this. But let me say this: We are not a off-site catering business, so there. We are a restaurant company doing business under contract. Who wants to try and get ahead by loading trucks and renting tents? I could write an entire book on why you don't want to get in to the catering business, or the restaurant business for that matter. Loading trucks and managing employees are on the top list.

There are methods used by all charities to attract and retain givers. Some are a hell-of-a-lot better than others at asking for money. Yesterday was a good one. A text message was sent yesterday from a telephone solicitor from United Way asking if I wanted to donate any money? Just like that? Times are bad, things are really, really bad. I got a letter from several others this week, more horrible times, the worst, send, send, send. People dying, kids, dogs, cats, seniors, the world is ending. Send.

Inflation is a bitch. And there are reasons for charities to meet goals and offset pullback when it comes to not receiving the equivalent to last years income or projected income. There are organizations furiously grinding out efforts to achieve that which was projected last year that will fall short this year. They have spent money on programs, hired additional workers and increased infrastructure, based on projections. Yes, the bottom is dropping out of the non- profit market. Got your check book out yet?
Dear Charity, you must get creative. Please come up with the best way for me to promote my business through your charity events. Seek to partner with me if you are asking for money. Turn me on to your client list, have me to lunch with your board members, do what is necessary. What have you done for those who you intend to benefit? To text a message is about as lame as giving just-a-quarter at the salvation army bucket at Schnucks. Programing is key and givers expect something in return. There is no free catering.

Is it leverage, exploitation? Nope, it is business in 2008.

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