The interview quotes below have been lightly edited for clarity.
At Kindful, we consider our customer’s mission to be our mission. That’s one of the many reasons we like to keep track of how our customers are doing good and how our donor management software can facilitate their needs and help them reach their goals.
Recently, Jimmy Kimmel put one of our customers, Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE), in the spotlight. We followed up with CORE’s Executive Director Sheila G. Bennett to learn how the organization has been able to generate positive press and leverage corporate partnerships in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
In this blog post, we’ll share a few key takeaways from the interview. You can watch the full CORE interview at the end of the post.
What is CORE?
“CORE was developed over 20 years ago to provide support to food and beverage employees with children when either the parent or child were navigating life-altering circumstances. That circumstance is defined as a health crisis, injury, illness, death, or natural disaster like the one currently ravaging our nation.”
How did CORE pivot to respond to the coronavirus crisis?
“In light of COVID and the increased visibility we started to receive, I quickly had to change the content and be a little bit more clear and concise about who we are and what we do. People are in a crisis mode. They’re not researching your website. They see one statement they gravitate to and may say, ‘Oh, that’s me, I qualify.’ So that was how we quickly had to make sure communications were clear.”
What were some of the opportunities that came up to promote CORE and how has the organization made the most of them?
“We were fortunate to have a network of organizations that love CORE and what we do and believe in our mission and our work. They were coming to us wanting to make donations, and we would sit down and have meetings or conference calls to find out how we could collaborate and what was important to them.
For example, with Barefoot Wines, I got the call from our contact there. She said, ‘Well, we want to make this donation.’ As we’re talking about what I wanted to achieve at CORE, I said, ‘I’ve come up with an idea. It’s for a handwashing campaign.’ And I said that I’m looking to get celebrities engaged in that because that’s going to be the way to grow our brand and to get more champions and supporters. She said, ‘We’ve worked with Jimmy Kimmel before, let me see if he’d be willing to do something.’
She had made a commitment of $100,000, which I was just floored with. She called me back within two days and said, ‘We’re increasing this amount. And we’re going to be featured on a Jimmy Kimmel minicam. And now we’re going to donate $300,000.’ You can imagine I almost fell out of my chair. I was so humbled. I mean, it brought tears to my eyes. I think I cried on the phone.
Then we promoted that. I went to my board, and I went to everybody I knew just going, ‘Well, can we get some celebrities to do this handwashing idea and to drive visibility?’ One of our board members knew Howie D and others knew Joe Piscopo. And then they challenged their friends and they knew other celebrity chefs and the movement grew.
You always ask the question out of curiosity: ‘Do you know anybody? Or is this a possibility?’ I’m just trying to reach out to everybody I know to see if there’s some way we could blend that into a promotion to help promote their brand, but also promote CORE. And I think positioning is always very important. So just be very thoughtful. And then ask without expectations. Be fearless.”
How do you connect with corporate sponsors and get them to support your work?
“Historically, we’ve gone to industry conferences where the movers and shakers are; plus we’ve got a really strong network within CORE. So we’ve been working on communications through our board of directors, and we have an ambassador program through our network of ambassadors and we provide them with tools and content to promote our brand. We reach out to organizations; in many cases, they’ve reached out to us, like PATRÓN Bacardi, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey, Rodney Strong Wine, The Wine Group, Jose Cuervo. They’ve all supported us in a big way because they believe in the mission and in the work. It’s just having this conversation, scheduling time. And even though you may get that donation at one time, it’s the follow-up. It’s keeping them engaged and informed as to the progress that we’re making.”
What words of encouragement would you have for other nonprofit professionals who are just trying to find similar success?
“Stay focused. What is your mission? And why are you here? What are you set out to do and how are you going to get there? Be clear in your communications, both internally and externally. Your stakeholders look and see what’s on your website. Is everything consistent across the board? Be curious. Be very curious about new and exciting and innovative ways to do things. And also be fearless. Ask good questions and ask for help when needed.”
Watch the full interview.
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