Division A

Category 10 - Other

Southwest Florida Addiction Services, Inc. (SWFAS) is a not-for-profit organization that is the region's largest and most comprehensive substance abuse treatment and prevention program, treating more than 6,000 people per year for alcohol and drug addiction.  During a monthly meeting of the agency’s Board of Directors, several members commented that they were exhausted from the season’s social whirl with two and three charity events every weekend and at least one event nearly every weeknight.  As the economy worsened in 2009, charities were turning more and more to black tie fund-raisers, auctions, casino nights and other events to raise precious dollars to replace those that had been lost, board members said.  While SWFAS is the recipient of a major golf tournament (PGA Tournament of Charities), the organization has not established a signature event of its own.  Board members were reluctant to add yet another event to the social calendar but wanted to find a way to increase awareness of SWFAS among major donors and introduce those individuals to the organization.  Gulfshore Life Magazine, in its annual Social Register, listed 242 events during high season (January – April).  An informal survey of board members of several organizations indicated that, like the SWFAS Board, they wanted to be supportive of local charities but were tired of the strain on their pocketbooks and their time.  From this research, the idea for a non-event event was born -- “Spend A Night In, Instead of a Night Out” – that would thank donors for their generosity to the community instead of asking them to attend yet another event. The mailing list of potential busy donors was developed at another brainstorming session with the Board.       

1) Thank major donors for their generosity in supporting numerous local charities (not just SWFAS) and encourage them to spend a night at home with a “Stay At Home” kit sent to 300 super-busy donors;
2)  Obtain sponsorships or in-kind donations of all parts of the “Stay At Home” kit so that there would be NO cost to SWFAS.  GOAL:  $2,000 cash + in-kind donations of pizza and movie rentals;
3)  Include information about SWFAS in a subtle, but meaningful way;
4)  Although the primary goal was not fund-raising, SWFAS hoped to receive enough contributions to offset the dollars normally raised during the spring direct mail campaign ($6,000 to $7,000) and introduce them to new prospective donors.  

What fun this project was!  Every business approached to provide either an in-kind or cash sponsorship happily agreed because sponsorships were kept very low ($2,000 and under).    Domino’s Pizza and Blockbuster Video agreed to provide coupons for free pizza and a Blockbuster movie or game.  Packets of breath mints, Skittles, microwave popcorn and moist towelettes were funded by a local bank and a group of individuals, who also covered the cost of mailing.  One of the biggest challenges was finding a container in which to send all of the goodies.  A popcorn box proved to be too flimsy for the mail, so Domino’s stepped forward again and donated cardboard sandwich boxes.  Labels on the outside of the box showed sponsor logos on one side and the mailing address on the other side.  Tucked inside was a card inviting the recipient to “Skip the SWFAS charity ball!  Forget the SWFAS formal dinner! Leave the black tie or evening gown in the closet!”  Recipients were thanked for all they do for the community. At the bottom of the box was another card asking them to consider giving a gift equal to the cost of a formal dinner or tux rental, if they wished.  Information about SWFAS was subtly placed on the inside box lid.

1)     The “Stay At Home” Kit was a rousing success!!  The kit was mailed March 27, 2009 to 300 busy donors (only one-third were known donors to SWFAS).  The telephone calls started immediately with recipients saying they appreciated the tone of the package and being thanked.  People who did NOT receive the box called and asked how they could get one.  Domino’s and Blockbuster happily provided another 20 coupons for SWFAS.  (320 boxes distributed – 20 more than goal)
2)     All parts of the “Stay At Home” kit were sponsored without a single penny of expense to SWFAS.  Value of each box was $18.25 with Domino’s providing pizza coupons valued at $3,757; Blockbuster providing movie rental coupons valued at $2,237, and cash sponsorships of $4,000 (100% more than $2,000 goal), which paid for all other items with $1,906 to spare.
3)    Although fund-raising was not the primary goal, SWFAS received $10,885 in donations, exceeding the amount normally raised in the spring direct mail campaign by 67%.  The average gift was $132.14 – seven times more than the box value. More importantly, 52 of the donors were new to SWFAS, opening future opportunities to build on those relationships.

ALL DONATED - Domino’s – $3,757 in pizza coupons; Blockbuster - $2,237 in movie rental coupons; PAID BY SPONSORSHIPS - popcorn, mints, Skittles and towelettes $1,178, printed pieces & labels $670, postage - $245.33; public relations counsel – DONATED (40 hours valued at $6,600)              TOTAL COST:     0