From Tiffany Ryan, VP, Account Services
Today was one of my favorite days at Palio, and it’s a day that occurs quite frequently in our building. Giving day. OK, I admit, I made that name up. A long time ago, we learned early that the spirit of giving was an important part of our culture. Whether it was the dozens of children who we (corporately and individually) “adopted” and bought Christmas gifts for, individual charities that we gain support for, pro bono projects, or our organized events mobilizing teams and staff for a common cause, we as a company do giving well.
Sound boastful? It should. I have worked at several companies that sponsor local little league teams, have United Way giving programs, and volunteer in the community. Yes, we do all of that. But where we really excel – where our employee passion, commitment, and spirit really comes together is when we band together in a unified cause.
I doubt there is anyone reading this who hasn’t been impacted by the horrifying images being broadcast from Haiti. And just when we thought it couldn’t get worse for the poor people trying to survive each day there, an ‘aftershock’ literally rocked their world again today. I spent hours last week researching causes that were providing relief to the people of Haiti. I donated online, donated through texting, generated as many check-ins as I could through Cause World (a really cool iPhone app that allows you to donate karma points which translate into cash from the sponsors), and donated loose change in the collection bins that were being placed at many local retailers. I still felt like I hadn’t done enough.
I wasn’t the least bit surprised to see the announcement come out from our Environment Team, promoting a day at Palio that would be dedicated to raising funds for the Haiti relief efforts. It would be easy to pass a hat and ask for spare change. But at Palio, our greatest fundraising successes are tied to collaborative, team events. Events that foster a sense of ownership and provide a forum for us to congregate and reflect on the cause. Today consisted of lunch served to the staff (for a nominal fee, of course), and a raffle where multiple Palio employees had donated their talents and time to come up with unique prizes. Whether it was a dinner cooked by an employee who claims fruit loops are his specialty, a customized piece of artwork from our Chief Creative Officer, or appetizers and drinks with our President, it was evident that people cared, that people believed in this cause. And the best part? The corporate commitment was there as usual – matching funds, funding the lunch, and utilizing internal resources to coordinate efforts and raise awareness for the cause.
Fundraising can be challenging. And, in the true spirit of giving, you are not supposed to get ‘anything’ back. I try to teach that to my kids, but find that each time I ask them to give, they do in fact get something back. Donate a dollar to a Salvation Army bell ringer? They get to ring the bell. Donate a toy to the Toys for Tots train? A hug from Santa. While these may not be tangible items that they bring home and play with, they do leave an impression. Much like I believe our events at Palio do for our staff.
We’ve done fundraisers, bake sales, and raffles before. What we really get from all of this is something much less tangible and much more important than the prizes you may win or the food you may eat. We get to unite as a single team. We see that coming together as a group yields greater results than individual efforts. And most important, we take pride in our company, our employees, and maybe even ourselves, for participating in something that is genuine and good.
We all know the agency stereotypes – a bunch of headstrong creatives vs. headstrong account people, red-faced and stubborn as they debate the finer merits of the work being produced. And while to some degree that stereotype gets fulfilled from time to time, on giving days it’s not about the egos, it’s not about the work, it’s not about who is right and who is wrong. It’s about coming together for a greater cause.
Today we raised a fair amount of money. I tend to think we got as much out of it as we gave. And in the end, we all hope and pray, that we’ve made a difference for the people of Haiti.