Special Olympics Utah Fundraising Shuffle

Filed under:Opinion, Special Olympics — posted by Tyler on February 27, 2006 @ 11:46 pm

Special Olympcis UtahLet me start by saying that I absolutely love Special Olympics Utah [sout.org] and everything they stand for. I am a volunteer, unified athlete, huge supporter and even a former employee. Maybe the fact that I used to work there compounds my frustration in their tactics to raise money; and that’s what this post is about. Hopefully I’ll be able to spin this into a positive in the end.

It’s frustrating to see the prostitution of one idea after another in their attempts to come up with something that will help raise money. It almost seems like an act of desperation at times. I wish more people would just support the cause without having to be hoodwinked into it. (Not that that’s always the case.) Part of the frustrating thing for me (and I’m sure for Special Olympics as well) is the fact that not very many ideas usually stick. As a result people like me who want to see Special Olympics succeed almost feel betrayed as we give our time, money and support to one idea after another only to see the apparent failure of an idea that we supported.

An example of this is the “Shop and Support” program that was being pushed hard when I was working there in 2003. We sent out emails and included it in every publication (print, web and otherwise). That’s why I was shocked to find a new program in its place (seemingly not as well organized but admittedly with an added addition that may indeed work out better, and also visually not even half as appealing when it comes to web design). The new program has a familiar ring; it’s called the “Shop and Give” [tricordia.com] Program.

The difference between the two programs is:

  1. Shop and Support
    • Required either that a program be installed on your computer and running in the system tray when online purchases were made or that you click on a gateway link before purchasing online
    • Support by hundreds of national chains that promised a portion of your online purchase be redirected back to Special Olympics chapters depending on the zip code registered in the installed software
    • Purchase tracking only by online purchases
  1. Shop and Give
    • No software required. (That’s huge! I always had a problem with the installation and I’m betting that might have been the demise of the Shop and Support program; although it looks like it still might be going strong in New York)
    • Purchase tracking by online gateway links as well as by credit cards registered with the program for in-store purchases. (That’s big as well and a definite benefit to the program. While online shopping is growing in popularity, it’s still not the main way that people make the majority of their purchases.)
    • The Shop and Give program is marketed as an advertising benefit to the retailer. This is also an added benefit over the original Shop and Support program. However, the amount of retailers involved in the new program is dwarfed (at the moment) by the amount involved in the old program.

So, while the programs vary and have different pros and cons, the fact remains that at some level I feel ripped off. I wrote an email to Wurld Media (the people behind “Shop and Support”) and asked them if my online purchases still count for my registered 84095 zip code. I sent it to JD Donnelly (CEO of Special Olympics Utah) as well. I’ll post any replies as comments below if I receive any.

While I’m frustrated (and I think that’s the key word and probably describes how the good people at Special Olympics Utah feels) about the constant change in fundraising tactics, I think that they’re just doing the best they can. To their credit, they are coming up with some great ideas that are sticking; like their annual Ski for Gold [events.org] event at Brighton which will likely expand to even more ski resorts in the coming years. I know that they are trying. Their cause is WORTHY!

I hope that you’ll join me in supporting them in any way you can. Money is a big part of helping, but so is volunteering. If you can’t monetarily support them, at least get involved as a volunteer by contacting their fabulous Volunteer Coordinator, Rochelle Deeter!

one comment so far »

  1. JD Donnelly, CEO of Special Olympics Utah, responded to my email. Here is what he said:

    On SO Shopping, the other US Programs did not support it enough to keep it going. SOI pulled the plug. SOUT is now just started doing something similar with Tricordia, details are on the web site.

    I’m glad to hear that it was out of the hands of Special Olympics Utah. They are just doing what they can to keep the money flowing for the great athletes whom they loyally support!

    Still waiting for a response from Wurld Media, but I’m not holding my breath.

    Comment by Tyler — March 2, 2006 @ 10:22 pm

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