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Do You Know a Charity I Can Help?

I knew the effects of the economic recession firsthand.  I lost my job (along with 40,000 other company employees) when retail giant Circuit City went bankrupt.  Disappointed by the resources available for those out of work, I set out to create a toolkit that job seekers of any age and background could use in their upcoming job interviews.

When I started my company, Interview Angel Inc, one of my top priorities was to be able to donate my product, the Interview Angel padfolio, to charities that provide career services to those in need.

The first organization we targeted was Dress for Success Worldwide, based in New York City.  Dress for Success is a non-profit organization that provides professional attire to disadvantaged women for job interviews.

The partnership was a big hit. My product was distributed to each woman participating in their new job placement Breakfast Club Program.

Denalerie Johnson, executive vice president of workforce development at Dress for Success Worldwide, shared the following feedback,  “Our women love the Interview Angel padfolios and they are the perfect complement to the Dress for Success job development and employment retention experience. We are committed to providing career resources and tools to assist our women with landing jobs and building careers. The well-organized, structured material helps ensure that Dress for Success women are prepared and more than competitive in this economic environment.”

We then organized a networking event to donate more Interview Angel padfolios to the Dress for Success affiliate in Norfolk, Virginia.

(For additional reference, here was the event press release.)

Funny thing happened.

The charitable demand for my product increased.  And I ran out of money.  Then I stopped donating.

My purpose died.

Recently, one of my close friends had the opportunity to hear Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS Shoes, speak in Chicago.

Blake shared his business principles of giving first and developing a business model of sustainability.  After all, if you can’t stay in business, you’re not helping anyone.

Inspired by Blake’s one-for-one vision for TOMS Shoes, I am now matching Interview Angel customer purchases with an equal product donation to charities in need.

I need your help to fight unemployment in America.

Two questions for you…

First, do you know a charity I can help?

(UPDATE – April 2011: I am now talking with representatives from Dress for Success and Career Gear to be ongoing beneficiaries of my product)

Second, how do I get the word out?

(If it helps, I started a Facebook page with a weekly giveaway promotion – that seems to be a good starting point.)

Thank you in advance for helping others.

Brent

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  • http://melissacooley.com/ Melissa

    I would bet that Heather Coleman-Voss of the Ferndale (MI) Career Center would be interested. Adult literacy councils could be another option as employment/better employment is a common goal of many adult learners. Proliteracy.org will have the names of state and local programs nationwide.

    In looking at how you are structuring your philanthropy, another way you could maximize the impact is by working with a nonprofit who would identify a sponsor who would be willing to underwrite the cost of the padfolios. For example, say an organization could use X number of padfolios, but you can only donate half of that amount. The group could actually create a new program or an enhanced program around the padfolios and find a for-profit to sponsor it so they could receive the full number of padfolios they need. Everybody wins in that scenario.

  • http://www.interviewangel.com Brent Peterson

    Hi Melissa,

    Thanks for the valuable feedback. I will reach out to Heather (or you are welcome to drop her a note :). In terms of non-profit partnerships, I like your idea. That was actually one of my proposals for Dress for Success for a long-term relationship. Are there any organizations you recommend?

    Thanks,
    Brent

    • http://melissacooley.com/ Melissa Cooley

      In terms of companies who could underwrite the cost of the padfolios, you could go a couple ways with it:

      1) Approach a company that supplies the materials that go into the padfolios to see if they are interested in going into a philanthropic partnership with you to benefit nonprofits.

      2) Work with the nonprofit to identify a potential sponsor they know of (either a business that they are hoping to get as a donor or one that they want to graduate to a higher level). By targeting a business with the nonprofit’s new program using the padfolios, hopefully that would provide a hook to gain enough interest to sponsor the program.

      Of the two, I think the latter is better because the nonprofit can better demonstrate the need and the expected impact of the program.

  • Anonymous

    Why not try to help wheels for wishes, its a great charity that helps kids, women and teens and out of school youth.

    Leila Fletcher,
    State of Illinois Car Donation
    Wheels for Wishes

  • http://www.interviewangel.com Brent Peterson

    Thanks Leila. Sounds like a good cause. I’m specifically looking for organizations that would benefit from my product Interview Angel. So I’m seeking non-profits that offer career services. It’s funny… I have left multiple messages for organizations (like Wounded Warrior) with no call back. I never thought it would be just as hard to give away my product as it has been to lead people to its investment.

    Brent

  • http://twitter.com/theresamoretti Theresa Moretti

    Hi Brent!

    I just read about this Southern California charity via @TimsStrategy. He’s holding an event next month that will include a donation to them:

    What Is Working Wardrobes®?

    Working Wardrobes, an Orange County Charity Organization, empowers men, women and young adults in crises to confidently enter the workforce through career development and wardrobe services. Each year the organization serves over 5,000 clients from a wide spectrum of backgrounds, including Welfare-to-Work, alcohol & substance abuse, domestic violence, transitional homelessness, catastrophic illness and other life crises.

    Also, Women at Work would be another good one:

    Serving the greater Los Angeles area, Women At Work is a nonprofit job and career resource center committed to helping women reach their full employment and earning potential. http://womenatwork1.org/wordpress/

    All the best,

    Theresa

  • http://www.interviewangel.com Brent Peterson

    Hi Theresa,

    Thanks for the note. Sounds like a potential fit for my product.

    Is there someone you can introduce me to at these organizations?

    Thanks,
    Brent

  • Annette Griffith

    Love the idea of helping different charity every month this move will give a chance for other charities to experience your generosity of helping those who are in needs, besides of charities that helps to fight unemployment are there any other particular kind of charities you would like to help?

    Annette Griffith
    State of California Donate a Car
    Wheels for Wishes