It’s that time of year when your mind turns to those less fortunate than yourself. The news of an unprecedented increase in care parcels provided by the Salvation Army and alike can be quite disheartening when most people are focused on Christmas work parties, travelling for summer holidays, planning to catch up with friends and family and possibly a large Christmas lunch. So, when thinking about giving back, we thought we’d write a few words on how Bella Vista Head Office looked at the challenges of participating in giving back as a New Zealand business.
Without doubt, each of the Bella Vista accommodation network's 27 NZ locations individually play a role in their community – from as far north as Whangarei, Invercargill in the south, Gisborne in the east and New Plymouth in the west.
Without wishing to create undue attention to their efforts, many of the Bella Vista motels regularly engage in supporting local projects, provide donations to charitable causes, undertake positive environmental initiatives, gift personal time, sponsor local sports teams and so on. Bella Vista motels are active members of their community. And so they should be, right?
Thinking through your business’ corporate responsibility and matching your desire to stand up and be counted can be a tough call for any small business; How much is enough? What can you spare? Can you justify your level of donation? Should your company’s profitability play a factor in the value you allocate to good causes? Who should you support and why? Or maybe you are just far too busy to look beyond the needs of your own business - and sometimes, that is a simple and necessary reality.
So many questions and there is no right or wrong. There is no template to follow beyond a gut feel for doing what you think is right for you and your business.
For any small business, there is a thin line between what you can afford to provide and ensuring you are not accused of making a token gesture, not giving enough or, within an environmental context, the dreaded accusation of ‘greenwash’. Your inner voice starts telling you that whilst supporting the local penguin colony is a great idea and delivers a fluffy feel-good factor, isn’t it time I bought new pillows for my customers and guarantee an even better night’s sleep?
Getting cold-calls from charity collecting organisations which, whilst no doubt are representing very worthy causes, makes those decisions even harder. A subsequent photo of thanks and sometimes even a certificate from the recipients of your donation definitely provides the warm and fuzzies! Sometimes it is almost impossible to say no. “A small donation would go a long way to help our group of deserving kids” you’re told. Of course, any business can absorb a small gesture but in our experience, when you give once to get these people off the phone and calm your conscience, you’re on the database and the frequency of those calls gradually increase. These phone calls can really play on your mind and emotion. If anything, those calls should be a reminder that you need to take control of what your business is doing in this space. It’s difficult isn’t it!
The tourism quality control organisation Qualmark, of which all Bella Vista motels are rated 4 star, provide some helpful guidelines as to what you can be doing. Consider both charity and environmental causes is one recommendation. Moreover, keeping your efforts and budget dedicated by streamlining your charities of choice enables you to confidently say no. “Thank you for the opportunity but we are focusing all our efforts toward our chosen charities.” The other piece of advice Bella Vista took on-board as a collective of small businesses was to try and ensure your efforts aligned to the industry and community you are operating within.
So whilst all the Bella Vista motels are active in their locality and region, we asked what can the Bella Vista head office team do?
Bella Vista promises “A better night’s sleep”. As part of this promise, Bella Vista head office based in Oamaru elected to contribute 1% percent of our turnover to a charitable cause every year. This year, we decided to focus our efforts on enabling local disadvantage children to get the best night’s sleep possible by gifting them a range of brand new bedding items.
It made sense to work in with our hospitality suppliers which enabled us to stretch our budget further and take advantage of some generous wholesale prices. This year our chosen recipient was Kakanui School, a decile one school in North Otago who have been provided sets of brand new comfy quality wool duvets and plump pillows to distribute among some of their deserving pupil's.
Here's some great photos of the school pupils taken during last week’s visit including Cody, Damien and Luke with their wool duvets and pillows plus Maia and the boys choosing their next holiday destination with Bella Vista. Accompanying them are the Principal, Ann Roughan and Bella Vista representatives Natalie Evans and Julie Familton.
The response to our Facebook post regarding the donation was heart-warming and we hope we have found the right answer to our good intentions. Apparently, the lollies were also appreciated by all concerned!
Happy Holidays to you all!