Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Arrogance of Non-Profits - A Rant

Recently, I had two very different experiences dealing with two different non-profit organizations. One was local, the other national, which may explain some of the differences. Let me explain...

The first one is a local non-profit to which we had donated product for the past 5 years for their annual fundraising raffle. The name is not important. This group is not particularly close to our mission statement of supporting cycling and outdoor non-profits, but we had first supported them when we had just started, so we continued to donate someting each year anyway.

This year, I first get a call from a member of the group, not so much asking as telling me that we'll be donating again this year! Okay, so the "presumed close" is a well-used tradition in sales, so I wasn't all that offended, but after I agreed to donate, he then told me (no asking) that he would be by to pick up the donation over 2 weeks before the event. As many of you know, I pride myself on the freshness of my coffee, so I asked if it didn't make more sense to pick it up the week of the event. "No," he said, "It would be easier for me if we could get it earlier. So please have it ready."

So, I put the basket together on the requested day, and guess who doesn't show up? Guess who doesn't call? Guess who sends an email the next day (to "undisclosed recipients") stating that it would be more "efficient" if the donations would be picked up the week of the event? No "I'm sorry for the inconvenience" or anything. Oh, and the following was at the end of the note: "Please advise your staff that we'll be picking up the donations." Sir, yes, sir! I wrote back stating that the basket was ready per his earlier request, and that the only day to pick up the basket that week would be Monday, as Kinetic Koffee would be closed the rest of the week. No response...

The week before the event, another "undisclosed recipients" email. This one states that the donations would be picked up on Wednesday and again, "advise your staff" as these people are very busy and can't be kept waiting around while someone finds their donation. I again politely respond, stating that the office will be closed after Monday, per my last email. The guy calls me and acys rather exasperated that no one would be there on Wednesday, but he'll change his plans and come on Monday. Gosh, thanks! Sorry to inconvenience you!

So he shows up on Monday, not looking happy at all about having to change his plans to accomodate my schedule. I give him the $60 basket and he finally smiles and says, "Thank you" and quickly leaves.

But wait, there's an epilogue! About 2 weeks later, there's another email. Was this a Thank you?" Well, no. This one is addressed to all donors and says that many of us had not picked up the commemorative items to which we were entitled as donors. Attached was a spreadsheet showing what you could choose to receive, based upon the value of your donation. Remember, I gave a $60 basket. Well, since I gave less than $100, I was not entitled to anything. At the bottom of the email were words to the effect, "Please disregard this message if you did not qualify for these items." Someone at the organization could have (and should have) taken the minute or two to figure out who was eligible and who was not. Those who did not "donate enough" should not have even seen this email, unless the intention was to shame us into donating more next year.

You can be assured that Kinetic Koffee will most definitely NOT be supporting this group in the future. Luckily, not all non-profits are this bad.

On the other hand, I had the absolute pleasure to work with Chris Strout at World Bicycle Relief again. The experience was a polar opposite to the local group. Kinetic Koffee always does fundraising at the Sea Otter Classic, and this year we chose to support WBR. Chris and his staff were very enthusiastic and excited. They asked what we wanted or needed to make it a success for both groups and supplied us with a banner, pamphlets, and stickers to give away. The fundraising didn't go as well as we had hoped (hot weather is not very conducive to sampling hot coffee), but the folks from SRAM (WBR's founder is a co-founder of SRAM) came over often to check in to say how much they appreciated what we were doing and seeing if we needed anything. I had said something to one of the SRAM folks about how disappointed I was in our sales and he said that the money didn't matter. Just the fact that we were doing what we could to spread the word about WBR was enough. Truly heartwarming to me.

You can be assured that Kinetic Koffee will do all it can to support this group in the future. And I would ask that anyone who wants to support a great group with a wonderful misson to send a donation to them, please!

Respectfully submitted,

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Has it really been over a month???

Things have gotten a little out of control this past month - both in a good way and a bad way. I promise to give a full update tomorrow.

Lots to write about...