In challenging economic times, discretionary income shrinks, and people and companies understandably increase focus on themselves. However, times like these are when nonprofit organizations need the most help, and I’m aghast when companies in a position to help act with no regard for the welfare of others.
Sometimes these acts hit uncomfortably close to home. The New York Times recently reported (http://sn.im/nyt010510) that the retailer H&M and a supplier for Wal-Mart were simply throwing away unsold clothing—barely a block from our offices. What’s worse? The article revealed that these stores intentionally cut up the items—including shoes, jackets, and gloves—so no one can wear them. Here’s the sobering punch line: There’s a collection point for New York Cares, which conducts an annual coat drive, directly around the corner.
I understand the concern with discarding unworn clothes: If locals know where to find the cast-offs, some may try their luck there and be less inclined to purchase clothes from the store. This is likely what prompted the decision to cut the clothes. But why not donate them, especially when it’s so easy to do? If H&M executives need a strong, self-serving business case for donating unsold clothes, the tax write-off alone should be motivation enough. But that’s almost beside the point. The fact is that there are people who could benefit from those items during these cold winter months. That should be the real motivation.
This type of behavior makes it more difficult for nonprofits to succeed. Sadly, the challenges don’t end there, with nonprofits burdened by stringent regulations and held to unreasonable standards. More than half of Americans, for example, expect nonprofits to spend no more than 20 percent of their income on overhead costs, according to our cover story, “Helping Hands,” by Associate Editor Jessica Tsai.
Naturally, donors want to know what percentage of their contributions goes to the programs they’re passionate about. This valid concern, however, tends to encourage nonprofits to make short-sighted decisions that can negatively impact a program’s long-term effectiveness (i.e., forgoing technology purchases that are considered too expensive, especially if the rewards aren’t recognized immediately). Fortunately, low-cost technology options—with CRM, in particular—are presenting new opportunities, enabling nonprofits to move forward without the hindrances of the past. Read the story to find out how.
These solutions are a much-needed remedy for nonprofits. Even the most efficiently run charitable organization on the planet, however, is nothing without donations. So please consider donating—your time, your money, or your corporate resources—to your favorite charity. Many companies even sponsor a charitable matching program for eligible donations.
In next month’s issue, we’ll feature our seventh annual Service Awards, where you’ll find the year’s most impressive efforts in customer service from CRM vendors and their customer companies.
And time is running out to reserve one of the last remaining spots at our Customer Executive Forum, taking place on April 18 in Scottsdale, Ariz., where attendees will learn how to make customer experience a viable and profitable reality within their organizations. For more information, visit www.CustomerExecutiveForum.com.