ECRM's Donation Process 4/27/2018
ECRM hosts over 60 different sessions a year and at the end of every one of them, tons of products are left behind! The cost of shipping items back to offices can often outweigh the benefits. Instead of wasting perfectly acceptable goods, a donation center is identified to receive any product left behind. ECRM partners with multiple local charities to donate anything left over from our sessions!
How do we decide who to donate to?
About one month before a session, the Freight Lead will begin searching for local charities in the city where the session is taking place. This research process takes more effort than one might think. It usually begins by working with the session hotel for recommendations on a worthy, local charity or shelter. The hotels are frequently the best resource since the employees live and work in the area! However, the hotel’s recommendations do not always pan out. Multiple different factors can cause this, such as: lack of reliable transportation, no volunteers to pick up the donations, restrictions on what products can be accepted, etc. Just this last January, our Freight Lead ended up contacting over 10 different shelters in the Washington D.C. area who would be able to accept medication/pills from our Vitamin, Weight Management & Sports Nutrition EPPS. During the search, one charity suggested another, and it was a perfect match! The chosen charity offered free clinics and healthy meals/snacks to low-income families, and was more than happy to accept the items left behind.
Occasionally, an ECRM staff member or attending company gives suggestions for a donation company. A recent General Merchandise Account Manager was approached by a client attending the Pet EPPS and suggested the company ECRM ended up using in 2017. The Freight Lead said that she more than likely would not have been able to find the group on her own since it was smaller operation.
As exciting as it is to donate to new places, ECRM will frequently use the same donation centers for specific sessions. For example, after the School & Office EPPS, ECRM almost always donates to the Kids in Need Foundation (KINF). KINF has warehouses and offices across the United States, which has made it easy to donate no matter where the session takes place. Additionally, since the Orlando area is a frequent location for ECRM sessions, Operation Shoebox is used whenever possible. By working with the same charities ECRM is able to build strong relationships and is assured the products are left in good hands.
Once a charity is selected, the heavy lifting begins. To inform attendees of who is receiving any leftover product, the Freight Lead puts together a flier that is placed in every single meeting space and in the session Hospitality area. The flier gives a brief overview of the chosen charity and important information about their cause.
One of the many things ECRM’s Freight Team is responsible for is coordinating pick-up times and locations between the chosen charity and hotel. They are the middle man to arrange how these items will be taken to where they are intended to go! From there, the lead must work with the hotel on assigning a place for ALL the donations. At the end of the session, anything being donated is left in each of the meeting spaces. It is an ECRM team effort to get those boxes left behind into the central location. With so much outgoing freight after a session, it is extremely important that these donations are not mixed up with anything shipping outbound. By having the ECRM staff handle this task, it ensures all items are brought to the proper area.
Once all the items marked for donation and are in the proper location, the Freight Lead will make sure everything is boxed up nicely for the charity. When the scheduled pick up day arrives, the Freight Lead assists the charity’s volunteers in bringing the items down to their truck/car and send them on their way. Sometimes there are so many items for donation that the charity is not able to take everything! When this happens, the Freight Lead turns the remaining items over to the hotel’s HR department who finds other local charities who can use the items.
All the planning behind the Donation Process is never for nothing! The organizations are always more than grateful for all that they receive. ECRM is fortunate enough to have received heartfelt messages from the charities after going through all the items. It makes every step of the way worth it knowing that these items that a lot of us didn’t think twice about are likely making someone’s day.
A Special Thank You
ECRM has partnered with many charities over the years, and it has been a pleasure to work with every single one of them. The organizations include, but are not limited to, the following:
• The Buddy Foundation – Chicago, IL
• Safe Nest Women’s Shelter – Las Vegas, NV
• Kids in Need Foundation – across the U.S.
• Operation Shoebox – Florida (sends packages to soldiers overseas)
• Boo at the Zoo/Children’s Hospital – New Orleans, LA
• Bread for the City – Washington, D.C.
• Project Halo – Charlotte, NC
• Society of St. Vincent de Paul – San Antonio, TX
• Ronald McDonald House Charities – Chicago, IL
• Gila River Indian Community – Chandler, AZ