Running an organization with your own investment is difficult. Running a Non-Profit organization when you are dependent on donations is even more difficult. This interview is published on June 4th, 2012, with Sherri Lewis Wood, just goes on to reinforce the conviction behind a cause that one believes in and can manage single-handedly, even when the odds are stacked against you at times. The importance of having strategic partners in running a Non-Profit Organization is enormous. Have are read through!
Bruce Burtch is a nationally-recognized cross-sector partnership and cause marketing expert. Bruce helps for-profit and nonprofit organizations develop win-win partnerships which maximize their strategic marketing and fund development success. Bruce has served as public affairs manager with Marriott Corporation, public relations director of the United States Olympic Committee and director of marketing of the American Red Cross Bay Area. Additionally, he has founded three successful for-profit companies and two nonprofit organizations.
His series, Profiles in Partnership, provides best practices and sound advice for developing and maintaining successful partnerships between nonprofit and for-profit organizations. We (Acteva) felt this series held important insights for both nonprofit and for-profit organizations from which they would benefit before developing partnerships or creating nonprofit fundraising events. You can check out his full blog here: http://burtch.wordpress.com/ To read the whole three-part blog please click on the link below.
With summer upon us it might seem incongruous to be publishing a blog series from my interview with the founder of One Warm Coat, the phenomenally successful winter coat drive. However, what better season to find some precious time with Sherri Lewis Wood, President and National Founder?
One Warm Coat was founded in 1992 and has been managed ever since that time out of the bedroom of Sherri’s San Francisco home. Only last year did she hire her first full-time employee, which is nothing short of miraculous for an organization that collected over 800,000 coats last year and expecting over one million coats in 2012. On many levels Sherri is my hero: she has taken a simple concept, has engaged every imaginable type and size organization to support her cause, scaled it nationally, all while keeping a clear focus on the core emotional impact of giving a warm coat to someone in need of a warm coat.
BB: Developing partnerships with the for-profit/retail industry and with media has greatly increased the success of One Warm Coat. Can you provide an example of such a partnership?
SLW: Right now we have two coat retailers who are working with us. Burlington Coat Factory has been a partner of ours for five years. They have collected gently used coats plus they began a point of sale campaign at their stores last July asking customers if they wanted to donate to purchase new coats, and in the month of July alone $130,000 was contributed to buy new coats that will be purchased at Burlington’s cost with no overhead. They’ll start it again in November and December. Our other retail partner, Aeropostale, has given us 100,000 new coats – they have 700 stores. Last year Aeropostale came to us and said we want to create a signature event for our younger stores, called PS from Aeropostale. The nonprofit event campaign is called One Warm Kid because one in five kids in our country live in poverty.
BB: How do you manage your brand and with so many and diverse organizations?
SLW: They tell us their dates, their plans, where the coats are going to go, what agency they selected and we make sure that they meet our criteria before they do a coat drive. Then we provide a free marketing kit to each one of our coat drives which gives them all the necessary marketing materials, such as a banner, flyers, One Warm Coat logos, suggestions on how to do a successful coat drive, and more. We will also suggest a local agency to receive the donated coats if they don’t already have one. We encourage people do “do their thing” and each coat drive is unique.
BB: Besides sponsorships, funding and in-kind donations, how else are you getting support from the corporate community?
SLW: We’re seeing more and more employee involvement. Our sponsors are getting behind the promotions with their employee base. There is communication, education and excitement at the employee level. Employees are going out and asking their neighbors and their family and friends, collecting coats and bringing them. That’s when we see something exciting – when the employees understand that they’re part of this campaign.
BB: Can you provide an example of a corporate coat drive versus a sponsorship?
SLW: We had a national employment agency based in New York hold coat drives in 16 offices across the country. We worked with Delta Airlines these last 3 years, they have 400 airport locations, and 45 of their locations created a One Warm Coat drive the first year, last year we had almost a double. They can’t wait to do it this year -they’re charged.