At Footers, we take pride as a company in having a positive impact on our community. I’m sure that many of you feel the same and make positive contributions to your communities either individually or as a company. Community can be defined in many ways and because of that “having a positive impact on your community" means different things to everyone. A positive impact might mean serving on a non-profit board or volunteering your time to a cause that is meaningful to you. It may mean working with your church or taking time to mentor those who aspire to do what you’ve been able to accomplish in your career. No matter how you define a positive contribution, it almost always revolves around selflessness and a willingness to give something in order to help others.
Anthony Lambatos (center) and the Footers family
We work with over 50 non-profit organizations each year and are able to help them in a variety of ways. From in-kind donations, auction items, and sponsorships to volunteer hours, fundraisers, and clothing drives we are able to have a positive impact on these groups. Promoting that we help so many organizations has never been a focal point for us and some would argue that we are missing opportunities for good press, but our goal in doing this is not to be recognized, it’s to have a meaningful impact on our community.
We make it a point to form partnerships with the non-profits we support. That doesn’t mean we only support the groups that do business with us, but it does mean that we understand that good business decisions allow us to have this positive impact and it should be a part of our evaluation process. I probably get a call once a week from someone asking for a donation or complimentary services. Most of them are great causes, but I always say that if I gave to everyone who asked, I wouldn’t be able to give to anyone because I’d be out of business.
So how do we decide who to give to and what to give? I know some caterers use a “donation request form." We utilized one of these years ago that included questions on how much business they’ve done with Footers, or how many people on their board use our services. It was a fairly decent way to weed out the people just looking for something for free, but it felt impersonal and too transactional for those that we really wanted to help.
A two-fold approach
Our approach now is two fold. The first is to sit down and meet with the group looking for something from us. We like to learn more about what they do and look for the best way to help them. It’s not always giving away free food. Sometimes an auction item is more valuable or they might just need some volunteers for special project. I’m also amazed at the number of organizations that come ask for something for free, but yet two months earlier paid one of our competitors or a hotel for services that we could have provided. For this reason we like to discuss all of their events throughout the year and make sure that anyone who takes part in the planning of those events is at that meeting. This allows us to build a true partnership where they can look for ways to help us as well. Hosting events at our facility has been a great way for the non-profit to entertain some of their donors, but it also gives us access to those donors and they get a behind the scenes look at what we do.
The second approach is supporting organizations that our employees are passionate about. We try very hard to create a great place to work and part of that means understanding what motivates and inspires our team. We encourage our team members to volunteer for board positions or assist with fundraisers even if that means time away from the office to do so. Also when we can help a cause that they love and care about, it solidifies that feeling of support they feel from the company. We want our team to feel good about where they work, but we also want them to feel good about the work they are doing. For that reason we try to emphasize the role they play in helping these organizations raise necessary funds and awareness at the events we cater. Part of our mission is to "Create Exceptional Experiences For Our Clients and Their Guests” and when we are able to do that at non-profit events, it usually leads to those guest giving more money to the cause.
Cheers to all of you that make a positive impact on your community both as a company and individually!