When it comes to corporate community investment, Country Grocer is doing it right. First opening their doors in 1984, being leaders in community giving has always been one of their company’s values. Today they receive up to 25 donation requests per week between their seven store locations, and they rarely turn anyone away. We recently sat down with Country Grocer’s Marketing Manager, Tammy Averill, to learn more about why their giving program is so successful!
Focus on Local Giving
“[Community investment] is not just something you put on the side of your desk,” says Averill. “You have to do it right.”
For Averill, “doing it right” means building relationships with charity groups within their stores’ various neighbourhoods. Country Grocer encourages each store manager to get to know their local community by making the giving decisions. To do this, they utilize a donation request form on their website with all small requests (under $500) directed to the appropriate store manager. As the Marketing Manager, Averill receives all of the larger incoming donation requests and makes the final giving decisions.
Making a Strategic Decision
To make her decision, Averill considers whether the charity is a good fit for Country Grocer.
“We have a look at the organization’s history in the community, their reputation and key values, success with working with other partners and if they have been involved with us in the past,” she says. She also considers whether or not they have common values and if they align with Country Grocer’s areas of focus. “We rarely say no,” she says, “unless it’s a very large ask and out of our budget at the time.”
What if the Answer is “No” ?
Although it can be a little awkward, we’ve discussed before that sometimes you just have to say no to donation requests. Country Grocer handles this by making a counter-offer with whatever resources they are able to give, such as a gift certificates. By doing this, they’re always trying to help out in some way.
If you do find yourself in a situation where you have yo say no to a charity requesting your help and there’s no available counter-offer, it’s good practice to give the charity a clear answer as to why you’re declining. This is where having well-defined company values and a strategy around who you’re able to give to comes in handy. Thank the charity for reaching out and, if you’re open to it, invite them to request a donation from you again in the future.
Managing Donation Requests can be Easy
Despite being flooded with weekly donation requests, Country Grocer’s internal donation request system is one way that helps them succeed in community investment. By utilizing an online form and directing requests to the appropriate manager and store, they’re able to capture all of the information they need from requesting charities in one place. Having a clearly defined strategy for who they are able to give to and having the support of an organized online system is the key to their success in managing donation requests.