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What causes do you support in your store and how?

October 6, 2009

Steven Lora, MOTIF Modern Living, Austin & San Antonio, TX

We have supported local sports teams, beauty queens and band camps, donated to countless silent auctions and fundraisers, but in our experience supporting charity has no impact on sales. The reality is that most people soliciting donations have never set foot in our stores before, much less bought from us — they are just going door-to-door [soliticing]. To expect some result from a donation of this nature is irrational.

We have learned not to expect anything from charitable contributions except the quiet, internal satisfaction of supporting that cause. But since the number of "good causes" far exceeds our ability to support them, we focus only on those issues that are close to us, our employees or their children.

Dana Luque, Florida Hospital Retail Division, Orlando, FL

The retail shops support the hospital foundation philanthropy program, encouraging donations from employees to the Diabetes Institute, Children’s Hospital, etc. Employees that donate are eligible for additional discounts at our shops, and receive a complimentary pair of tennis shoes after six months of participation. This program has been in effect for three years and has been very successful. In addition to promoting philanthropy, it increases traffic and enhances the customer’s experience. We are working with our physician residency program to develop our first art exhibit; proceeds will fund a physician mission trip to Ghana and Nigeria. Artwork will be donated by our physicians as well as local businesses. We also participate in Pink Hair Event (breast cancer awareness month) and donate gifts for auctions, raffles and giveaways to the Florida Hospital Gala events, local community events, Adopt-a-family @ Christmas, Backpacks for Kids and American Heart Association. We carry products that donate a portion of proceeds to charity; however, national campaigns are not a sales driver for us. For customers there is little excitement or connection unless it is something local they can "see, feel, or touch."

Heather O’Quinn, Dreamy, Encinitas, CA

Our customers love to support and be educated about local causes and will come out for events to show their support. The bonus of supporting local causes is that usually the people who started the causes will be present to share their passion. Dreamy supports local causes such as Rancho Coastal Humane Society, San Dieguito Heritage Museum, local golf tournaments supporting research funding for CF & Leukemia and local public school silent auctions. Via in-store events we donate a percentage of our profits to organizations such as Keep a Breast (a local breast cancer awareness organization) and Susan G. Koman. We have a phrase at our events: "Party with a Purpose!" We are in the October issue of InStyle representing a new organic soy candle brand, Linneas Lights, which is donating a percentage of profits to Susan G. Koman in October. I believe it helps to "validate" a purchase and add more meaning to a gift.