Giving While Receiving

IN RECENT YEARS, THERE HAS been increased interest in cause-related marketing, which is the idea of harnessing consumer attention through charitable event sponsorship. Through this marketing, companies have helped themselves while supporting worthwhile charities.

More than a decade ago, leaders in the Massachusetts chapter of the National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA) were thinking along similar lines. Association leaders decided to host a yearly golf tournament, with event proceeds dedicated to charity. The first few outings were well-attended, and the charitable aspect enhanced participation. The yearly event now is highly anticipated, and NSWMA routinely sells out the round of golf and 200-person dinner. Over the years, donations have been given to several charities, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation, American Cancer Society, Carol Barry Foundation to fight breast cancer and the George S. Troupe Foundation, which gives scholarships to underprivileged inner-city kids. The event also became the forum to honor deceased members George S. Troupe and John M. Barry, who played active roles in establishing the chapter.

In 2004, the chapter partnered with Easter Seals-Massachusetts and donated more than $26,000 to support its programs for people with disabilities. When looking for a charitable organization to partner with, the chapter evaluates the need for the organization's services and the percentage of donations spent on its actual cause versus money for administrative costs. For Easter Seals, 85 percent of funds is spent directly on helping Easter Seals' clients.

Within the chapter, response to the golf tournament far exceeded expectations. Many companies each donated $2,000, including ABC Disposal Service, American Re-Fuel, BFI-Allied Waste Industries, IESI-Seneca Meadows, Maguire Equipment, McNeilus Truck and Manufacturing Co., USA Hauling & Recycling, Volvo Construction Equipment, Waste Solution Inc., and Wheelabrator Technologies (Waste Management Inc.). In addition, many other companies gave as much as $1,000 or donated time, gifts and manpower. Those companies (Barry Brothers Disposal, Red Gagnon, Maine Energy Recovery, RDK Truck Sales, Brown & Caldwell, Continental Biomass, E.L. Harvey & Sons, Milton-Cat, Pioneer Cover-All and Olympic Compactor) all donated generously in many ways that contributed to the 2004 tournament's success.

The President of Easter Seals-Massachusetts, Kirk N. Joslin, attended the event and praised the generosity and caring nature of the people in our industry. Organizing the tournament was not just a charitable fundraiser, it gave NSWMA an opportunity to give back to the communities that support the industry.

NSWMA's Massachusetts chapter is not alone in supporting charities. Waste industry companies help raise millions of dollars for various charities each year. Few people notice that waste companies are actively engaged in such activities, but waste company employees live and work in local communities and are dedicated to ensuring a good quality of life for their neighbors. These activities range from direct donations of funds for causes to providing free garbage collection at events.

Other NSWMA chapters also are involved in community activities. The Maryland-Delaware Solid Waste Association, an NSWMA chapter, recently donated funds from its golf tournament to a local program that offers scholarships to students who show that a mentor has made a difference in their lives. Another chapter, the Virginia Waste Industries Association, actively works with state and local leaders to develop environmental stewardship, including helping to develop educational programming at an annual state conference.

There are many reasons the waste industry devotes resources to charitable activities, but Jim Harvey, CEO of E.L. Harvey & Sons and chairman emeritus of the Massachusetts Chapter, says it best: “Engaging in any activity that benefits a worthy charity is simply a good thing to do. It provides people an opportunity to give their time, talents and good will to do something that helps others — which is something we all too often overlook or put off, given the hectic demands of competing everyday in the marketplace.”

Steve Changaris is NSWMA's northeast regional manager. Contact the author by e-mailing: [email protected].