6 lessons learned from a successful charitable event

In its first three years, Royer's Stems Hunger has collected nearly 5,000 pounds of nonperishable food for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and the Greater Berks Food Bank.
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Greg Royer, CEO, Royer’s Flowers & Gifts; Jackie Dahms, manager, Royer’s West York store; Joe Arthur, executive director, Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. The West York store was recognized in 2013 for collecting the most pounds of food among Royer’s 17 locations.

Greg Royer, CEO, Royer’s Flowers & Gifts; Jackie Dahms, manager, Royer’s West York store; Joe Arthur, executive director, Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. The West York store was recognized in 2013 for collecting the most pounds of food among Royer’s 17 locations.

Royer’s Flowers & Gifts’ annual food drive – Royer’s Stems Hunger – returns for a fourth year July 20-28. In its first three years, the event has collected nearly 5,000 pounds of nonperishable food for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank and the Greater Berks Food Bank.

I give most of the credit for the event’s success to Greg Royer, president and CEO of family-owned Royer’s. Greg embraced the concept from the moment we presented it to him in 2011 and has been nothing but supportive of its continued growth.

Royer’s Stems Hunger actually grew out of another charitable event that we envisioned for a different client. The evolution of this event has taught me six valuable lessons.

1. Don’t give up on a good idea: In February 2008, we approached another client with the concept of collecting supplies for area humane societies. When the client balked at the beneficiary, we reworked it as a food drive. The client still didn’t bite.

But we knew the idea was a good one. We just needed to find the right fit for it. Enter Royer’s.

2. Get client buy-in: We previously had worked with Royer’s to develop “Bouquets for Books,” a fall event that collects new children’s books for public libraries. An event is only as good as the support it receives from its sponsor. Every Royer’s store participates; Royer’s sister stores in Columbus, Ohio, hold their own version.

3. Get the charity’s buy-in: The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank is a partner in the truest sense, coordinating the drop-off and pick-up of donation barrels, creating posters and counter signs, even providing an award to the Royer’s store that collects the most pounds of food.

4. Find a unique hook: While we often think of hunger during the holiday season, it’s a year-round problem. Brad Peterson, director of communications and marketing for the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, explains in this video:

5. Keep it simple: With so many charitable events vying for the public’s attention, it’s important to be able to convey your event’s concept succinctly. The name itself defines the purpose of “Stems Hunger,” which at any rate is easy to explain: donate a nonperishable food item, get a free carnation.

6. Keep improving: We start with a goal of collecting more food each year. To that end, we continue to look for ways to expand and improve “Stems Hunger.” This year, another client of ours, Drayer Physical Therapy Institute, graciously agreed to help with the food drive. Five of its central Pennsylvania centers and two of its mid-Ohio centers will collect food.

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