Ho ho ho! Cure Kids Santa Run

Wendy+Great+New+Zealand+Santa+Run+kGzGhzJmLhnl

I’m all for doing new things, especially those in the name of a good cause, so when the opportunity came by to run around the Viaduct in a Santa suit for charity, I thought, why not! Thus, on December 9th, me and anyone I can convince into coming will be ho-ho-ho’ing our way around the Auckland Viaduct in the Santa run for Cure Kids. Come and play too! This is a great event for corporate teams to get involved in as a bit of a laugh! At the very least, do come down and be enjoy the spectacle as support crew, it’s not often you’ll catch me in a Santa suit! More info and registrations for the event here.

November 9, 2009 at 10:19 am Leave a comment

Icehouse Fast Pitch Finals 2009

home_fast

This year I chose to pitch in the Icehouse Fast Pitch competition, where you had 60 seconds to present an “Elevator Pitch” for your business or idea. After checking it out last year in the audience, I bit the bullet and entered this year to get the experience public speaking, put myself out of my comfort zone and hopefully get DonateNZ in front of some people who may be in the position to help us out. In addition to this, recording the pitch for Youtube means it could be shared to a wider audience other than just those who were there.

The competition process was rolled out over about a month, first with an intro night, semi finals and lastly the final which was held last night at Auckland Uni. I was pretty stoked to get into the finals, being firstly the only charity in the final 10 and also surprisingly the only female!

I was pretty pleased with how my presentation went – I went under time with minutes to spare and only managed to deviate from my original pitch by omitting two sentences. Review of the video wasn’t too painful except I did notice I waved my arms a little like a conductor, must remember to tone that down a little next time!

ElPitch1

Thanks to those of you who helped me prepare my pitch and those who came along to support on the night. Unfortunately I wasn’t a winner, however I do congratulate the very deserving winners who had massively fundable, attractive, business propositions and presented very professionally. The winners were:

  • BNZ Best Intellectual Property and Overall Winner- Chris White of Podscape Holdings Ltd
  • Ernst & Young Best Funding Opportunity – Ashley Schroder of World Wide Access Ltd
  • Gen-i Best Presentation – Neil Petrie
  • Microsoft People’s Choice – Brad Lovett of Green Loos

You’d think a one minute presentation of an idea, which is realistically comprised of no more than 12 sentences, sounds easy, but in practice it’s really not! You’d be surprised how much effort and analysis goes into crafting the pitches.

A general plan of a good 1 minute pitch was outlined by Todd Wackrow, winner of last years competition, in the first intro session:

  1. Establish Customer Pain
  2. Present solution
  3. Whats your Competition
  4. Establish credibility
  5. Whats Business model
  6. What we want

I found this particularly hard, as there are several pain points and solutions with DonateNZ. We deal with two completely separate audiences, meeting them in the middle with a solution, but each’s pain points and requirements is very different. It became obvious very soon that it was not going to be possible to cover these all in a minute or under. I chose to tackle this problem by looking at the audience I was presenting to and adapted this to the most relevant pitch for them –>

General audience summary, Fast Pitch Finals:
A. General public with a business interest
B. Judges (representatives from large corporates) and Business mentors
C. Angel investors

Hence the main parts of DonateNZ I chose to emphasise were:
A. What we can do for everyone (helping them find homes for things they no longer need anymore) – emphasis both personally and at work
B. Seeking Corporate sponsor – emphasise benefits of partnering with us

The general breakdown of my pitch went like this:

  • Introduce self from charity (to clearly distinguish from a business idea vs a not-for-profit) 1 sentence
  • Pain point for the average person or business 1 sentence
  • Illustrate further examples 1 sentence
  • Introduce us as solution 1 sentence
  • Explain how it works 2 sentences
  • Establish credibility and illustrate successes 2 sentences
  • Outline what we want (who we’re looking for in this pitch) 1 sentence
  • Outline what we bring to the table 2 sentences
  • Final line 1 sentence

Here is the transcript of the pitch I presented:

_________

Hi, I’m Claire Sawyers, from the charity, DonateNZ.

How many times have you moved office or house and been left with valuable things, you just didn’t need any more? Computers, furniture, appliances, you name it.

DonateNZ is the solution to your predicament, and a great way to help the community at the same time.

Through our website donatenz.com, connect what you have to give, with a good cause who will pick it up and put it to use.

Our automated online system acts as the middle man, think TradeMe, without the cash.

We’re not just a great idea, we’re a reality and the 1st of our kind worldwide.

Since we began we’ve facilitated thousands of exchanges and have over 1000 charities on board. Their spread is nationwide, servicing over 2 million Kiwis.

We’re looking for a corporate sponsor to help us grow in NZ and beyond.

Partnering with us will enhance your sustainability policy and give continuous exposure to our charity audience and the people they serve. Choose us as your charitable initiative.

_________

Here’s the video on Youtube, so you all can see it.

For anyone who has a business or charity idea, I strongly encourage you to enter this competition next year. Besides the obvious prizes if you win, it is great for experience in public speaking, business mentoring and networking. As well as this, anything that puts yourself outside your comfort zone has got to be good for ya!

See more handy info on how to do elevator pitches, with links to helpful sites, in a previous blog I wrote here.

October 28, 2009 at 12:18 pm Leave a comment

Clothing bins: Good charity or good business?

mfe+donating+old+clothes5_0

Did you know that a large amount of the clothing bins placed throughout this country are run by a private business, SaveMart? “But I thought the clothes go to charity?” I hear you say. Not entirely true… Only some of the profit this business makes go to NZ charities at the end of the day.

Let’s debate the in’s and out’s of this for a short while:

A. PROFITABILITY

Renting, running and staffing 10 charity stores selling used clothing is a costly endevour. For this reason, many charities have chosen to partner with Save Mart, handing over their bins, closing their op-shops and letting them run the whole process. A representative from Save Mart I spoke to recently confirmed this and advised me that through their professionally run shops, the charities in question make more funds for their organisation now, than when they ever did collecting and running shops themselves. Save Mart makes more money selling the clothes than a lot of smaller shops ever could, due to a larger customer base, more experience pricing and moving items.

B. ABUSE

– It’s inevitable, you put a bin on the side of the road and some goons will put rubbish in it. Clothing bins are a magnet for messiness and councils regularly deal with complaints in regards to clothing bins, much like this incident in the South Auckland region.
– A large amount of people tend to use the bins their own personal ‘ rag recycling’ drop off point, meaning a large amount of the clothing gained from these bins is unsaleable.
– Bins are regularly targetted by thieves, hence why the company does not publish lists of where the bins are located, in an attempt to at least make it a bit more of a mission for these criminals to find their next target.
Save Mart has to deal with the associated costs of maintaining the cleanliness and maintenance of the above, a factor not many people consider. I don’t envy them!

C. TRANSPARENCY

When you are putting clothes into the recycling bin or into the bags left at your doorstep, who do you think they are going to? Do you think they are being directly given to someone who can use them, or are you aware they are being onsold? Are you ok with them being onsold? Do you even care?

A large amount of people are shocked when they hear that 100% of the profits of these clothing sales do not go to a charity. Some might say that the clothes going into these bins essentially line another business’s pocket, in addition to sustaining their corporate social responsibility project, all under the guise of collecting for charity.

Do you think these kind of businesses need to be more transparent about this at the drop off site and in their marketing materials, or are people responsible for doing their own due diligence when they put things in there?

D. SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS

Potential transparency issues aside, one might say that this business is a great example of sustainable business. They provide a valid recycling service to the community, support charities and also deliver clothing at low cost to those who might never be able to afford it.

E. WHO CARES?

Since beginning DonateNZ, I have found most people follow a similar pattern in regards to the things they don’t need. It goes like this…

A. “Hoard for as long as possible (“I might need it one day”)
B. “Eeek I need to get rid of it by X date (I’m moving/need the room/cleaning up”)
C. Take it away ASAP, don’t care who it is just take it”.

This means, that a large amount of people don’t even care who their used clothes go to – they know that at some point a charity benefits and that is enough for them. One might say the convenience of having a quick, easy solution (whatever it is), far outweighs any requirement to know the “who, whats and whys” of who is collecting them.

However there are a large amount of people out there who do care and always have. The number of people who feel in this manner are increasing as the concern for the environment and its sustainability grows. These people my be a little perturbed to hear the fact stated at the beginning of this blog.

TO SUMMARISE….

I’ve deliberately tried to maintain a neutral stance in this matter, it’s up to you to make your own decision based on this information. Do you…

– Support Save Mart, who does make profit both for itself and the charities it supports, – by putting clothes into their bins, which are conveniently located throughout the country?

– Or do you donate to smaller stores, such as hospice shops, who sell them with 100% of profit going back to the organisation, but struggle to do so ever due to huge running costs?

– Or consider passing your clothes through DonateNZ to a charity who can give them to someone who can use them, as opposed to reselling them. We have wishes for clothing made by community organisations, which are regularly updated by charities. See the latest ones here. By matching up what you have with someone that needs it, you can save that person tens, hundreds, even thousands of dollars as it means they do not have to go out and buy it. With technologies around like DonateNZ, this kind of smart exchanging is a reality now. It takes being a little more proactive with your old things, but is a lot more beneficial all round in the long run.

It’s your choice overall, you have the facts now, just promise me you do donate them, rather than dumping them!

October 23, 2009 at 11:40 am 1 comment

Unsubscribe requests; what not to do

fail

Recently, I requested to be removed from a charity’s mailing list and was sworn at and abused… I feel at this point that it may not be a good idea to name and shame them, as it may cause more harassment and bad mouthing towards my organisation from them. I will detail what happened below and let me know, what would you do in this situation?

So last night, I received a Tsunami appeal from a small, relatively unknown organisation, wanting me to put funds into their bank account for the Tsunami appeal. As I receive a HUGE amount of email through all DonateNZ email addresses, I prefer to keep my personal address limited to personal mail only. I also follow this particular organisation on Twitter and receive their mail that way, therefore I asked to be removed from the email list.

This morning I received a call from a Trustee of the organisation, who within a second of me saying hello began to yell at me for my response, completely letting loose and swearing at me, calling me a communist and a horrible “f***ng” person for not supporting Samoa, in addition to a tirade of other of profanities. I was completely taken aback and completely surprised by her reaction. She continued to yell for about 2 minutes without letting me speak, until she hung up on me. I was absolutely flabbergasted and a second later, very upset. I mean, I work all day every day working to promote good causes and help out wherever I can, you just don’t expect to be treated like that ever, nonetheless for asking to be unsubscribed from a mailing list. About 5 minutes later, she rang back to the office and I was too upset pick up the phone, so Jane, our Trustee did. She proceeded to start abusing and swearing at Jane also and then hung up on her also.

Following on from the phone call, she emailed my email address another 9 times with various insults and accusations, as well as posting on Twitter warning people against our organisation, as well as sending an email warning her board members about us. There was no reasoning with her, it just became a complete personal attack. She has been warned that if public defamatory continue I will take both public and legal action, but I hope it does not come to this. I am shocked and appauled that a simple unsubscribe request would evoke such a reaction from someone, it’s just completely flabbergasted me.

This is a pretty out-there example of fail charity customer service and human behavior. It is sad really, as she has now not only lost her organisation my support personally but also DonateNZ’s as well. Thankfully, the emails seem to have ceased now, so I hope this is the last I hear from that particular organisation.

Have you ever had an incident like this when you tried to unsubscribe from an mail list? What would you do if they started slagging your business or organisation publicly when you did?

October 5, 2009 at 3:37 pm 30 comments

Big day at “The Big Schwop”

On Saturday I volunteered my services at the Big Clothes Schwop which was held at the Langham in Auckland. What’s a clothes schwop you ask? It’s pretty simple, you bring along the new/lightly used designer clothing you no longer want and for each that is accepted you get one token to take something from the masses of things people bring in home with you.
I absolutely LOVE this concept. Inevitably you buy things and for one reason or another they don’t work out. What then? I usually sell them on TradeMe, however it is a lot of effort, especially if you are not experienced at it. You’ll never get the same amount you bought them for either. What could be better than swapping something you’re not wearing, for something “new to you” that you will love and actually wear!
In terms of volunteering at the event, I would highly recommend doing this… While I was on my feet literally all day ferrying clothes from one place to another, to be honest, I don’t know who got the better deal out of the day, me or them! With the tokens I had for the clothes I schwopped we got first pick of the clothing before everyone else, so I walked away with several dresses, tops and jackets which I absolutely love. As well as this, I met lots of cool people, including the lovely ladies behind this; Inga, Sarah and Chrissy.
This business is in it’s infancy still, but I really look forward to seeing how it grows and I plan on helping them wherever I can, including helping at the next coming event in Wellington on the 31st of October. If you’re in or around Wellington on that date, do come along, it’s well worth your while.

On Saturday I volunteered my time helping at the Big Clothes Schwop which was held at the Langham in Auckland. What’s a clothes schwop you ask? It’s pretty simple, you bring along the new/lightly used designer clothing you no longer want and for each that is accepted you get one token to take something from the masses of things people bring in home with you. See the news piece filmed on the day here.

I absolutely LOVE this concept. Inevitably you buy things and for one reason or another they don’t work out. What then? I usually sell them on TradeMe, however it is a lot of effort, especially if you are not experienced at it. As well as this, you’ll never get the same amount you bought them for either. What could be better than swapping something you’re not wearing, for something “new to you” that you will love and actually wear!

Clothes schwopping in action
Clothes schwopping in action

In terms of volunteering at the event, I would highly recommend doing this… While I was on my feet literally all day ferrying clothes from one place to another, to be honest, I don’t know who got the better deal out of the day, me or them! With the tokens I got for the clothes I schwopped, we got first pick of the clothing before everyone else, so I walked away with several dresses, tops and jackets that I absolutely love. As well as this, I met lots of cool people, including the lovely ladies behind the schwop; Inga, Sarah and Chrissy.

Inga, Sarah and Chrissy from the Big Schwop

Inga, Sarah and Chrissy from the Big Schwop

This business is in its infancy, but I really look forward to seeing how it grows. I plan on helping them wherever I can, including helping at the upcoming event in Wellington on the 31st of October. If you’re in or around Wellington on that date, do come along, it’s well worth your while.

See the Big Schwop website here http://www.thebigschwop.co.nz

September 28, 2009 at 3:38 pm Leave a comment

Music for the workplace

headphones

As I work in a retail/office environment, repetitive radio drove us mad after a short while and we decided to sort our situation out by expanding our music collection and creating playlists. So now we rarely have to listen to the same thing twice! I’m always on the lookout for cool new albums, which are upbeat, solid from start to finish and also what I would call “parent and shop friendly”. That means, your Dad/Mum isn’t going to jump up and turn it off (they might even enjoy it) and any shop customer who comes into the florist is going to feel relatively at ease and comfortable with whats on (keeping in mind we have a wide variances of happy to sad people coming in regularly).

I’ve put together a list on Listmania of all the albums I love for this purpose, that you should know about. A real mix of genres, maybe there might be a new find in there for you! View the list here. Feel free to share anything you think I should listen to as well 🙂

September 28, 2009 at 2:28 pm Leave a comment

Changing DonateNZ; who decides

One of the most frustrating things that I am finding with seeking funding, is that it seems in order for us to get it, we have to change what we are. Who are they to tell us we should be doing things differently? I know, they are the strings to the proverbial purse and we want something from them, but to what degree should we consider changing in order to satisfy them? Given the countless awards, TV coverage, successes and recognition we have achieved since we began; we must be doing something right, I would hope we’re doing a lot right!

Comments from multiple funders we have spoken to reflect the fact that they don’t believe funding our website development costs to be as needy a cause as assisting other charities to provide their services. I was warned by Volunteering Auckland’s Cheryll Martin about this fact before we started applying to funding organizations; that I will find it ten times as hard to find funding as opposed to any other organisation; as we are both essentially support organisations to the charity sector, as opposed to being on the front lines.

Consider this… A funder has applications for funds in front of them, both totaling $30K:

  • One from DonateNZ to fund website development to fix the current problems and build areas specifically requested by its users OR
  • Fund 10 sick kids wishes to go to Disneyland

Which would you choose? Would the tug of your heartstrings win?

I’m not arguing against sending sick kids to Disneyland, or knocking any of the valuable causes who we compete with for funding, as they are the very reason I began the website; to help them. However, I am pointing at the differences in the long term benefit gained from the funds. After that trip is over, the funds are gone. If we were to receive the funds, by making our service perform properly (which I am sorry to say, is not, presently) the DonateNZ site could be filling hundreds of Wishes for charities weekly. This would relieve the pressure on the community funding sector, as well as the charity themselves.

We’ve been told by funders, that if we were to run some public event or something more “forwards facing” they would consider us more seriously. We’ve considered this. However it does not fit with our core vision and goals which will take the site to be where it needs to be. Do you think we should change who we are to fit into their criteria? I certainly don’t. Could this be a classic case of cutting of ones nose to spite ones face? Maybe. I know one thing for certain, in order for this site to be a success we need to base our decisions on assessing solid feedback from members, successes and market demand; not from what a handful of people who have money who want us to fit through their hoops.

I’ve been told by funders, that we appear too professional and “not needy enough” and perhaps that is true. It is tough however, as I don’t think we will ever seem needy enough; as it’s the thousands of organisations we represent (and the people they serve) who are. By giving them a voice, via our website, we can make a brighter future for them by allowing their community to see who they are and how they can help. Our role is a distinctly strategic move to provide a service to support the charitable sector and make it more self sufficient, as well as making every New Zealander an active participant in those organisation’s future. Think you know better, or want to help or just comment? Do share 🙂

September 23, 2009 at 1:25 pm Leave a comment

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