Developing a charity program or not for profit startup (Part II)

by Guest Author on February 6, 2013

You have worked hard to build a successful business.  Now you feel ready to give back to the community that has given you its support.  Developing a successful charity program is not a simple thing to do but can be very rewarding.  We wanted to help out our community but we knew it needed to be on a budget of next to nothing.  If you follow some of these steps you can begin to develop a program that will help your business return something to the community that supports you every day.

Here is what we did to tap into our existing network and select our recipient.  This process allowed us to give back to our community.

Community Outreach: We had reached out to the most obvious place, our customers.  We asked most of our customers that came in if they knew of anyone that needed some help.  Even today asking for help face-to-face is still effective.  We were able to obtain our two nominees from a local church that used our garage for its vehicles.  If you have a problem the best place to find a solution is by just asking your customers.  If you do a good job for them they will be more than happy to help.

Selection Criteria: We were seeking someone that exhibited an ability to overcome their setback, that was currently employed or in school and someone that carried current insurance on their car.  The nominee had to be willing to help the mechanic work on the vehicle during the repair.  Our first two nominations were exactly what we were seeking.  Now the hard part, we had to select our first recipient.

Selection Process: Our community has come into our garage for two and a half years and we wanted to give back.  Our word of mouth efforts were successful in that we got two solid applications in the first two weeks.  We went to both nominees’ place of work and talked to them.  Starting out we wanted to touch base with both candidates.  We asked each person to bring their vehicle into our garage so we could see what we were going to have to fix.  It was important to carefully inspect each vehicle so we did not get into any prospective expensive pitfalls as far as the repairs.  Occasionally we will get into an older car that has not been repaired for quite some time and needs a lot of attention.  As a new business we needed to be mindful of cash flow and expense.  We are still a small business making ends meet by the skin of our teeth and we didn’t want these repairs to break us.  We still had one more step to help us choose.

Vetting the Candidates: After meeting both candidates, we still had two great nominees.   We had a formal review of the nominations.  Again our criteria were as follows:

  1. The nominee had to be working.
  2. The nominee had to have valid insurance on the vehicle
  3. The nominee had to show a perseverance to overcome the current setback
  4. The nominee had to be willing to perform some of the repairs alongside our mechanic.

We chose a woman that needed to get her vehicle fixed so it could pass emissions.  She was working as a tutor part-time after being let go as a full-time teacher about a year ago.  She volunteered at her church and needed her vehicle to get to work, to volunteer and to visit her sick daughter about 100 miles away.  When we called her we got a reaction we were not expecting at all.

To be continued…                                                                          Read the previous post.

Bill ReillyAbout the Author:
Bill Reilly one of five founders and currently is in charge of the marketing. Hands-on Garage can be found at, and @HandsOnGarage on Twitter.

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