Fuel the Industry’s Image with your Good Works

Sir Winston Churchill often said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” During The NATSO Show, Cinnabon CEO Kat Cole suggested that when evaluating charities to support, we ask, ‘Are they small enough to do, but large enough to make a difference?’

Again it’s that time of year we need to review the charities we’re each supporting in 2015 to evaluate their worthiness of our support in 2016. The questions Charity Navigator and others suggest we ask are:

  • Does the charity actually do those things that it tells you about in its solicitations?
  • Does the charity clearly explain what problem it intends to address and how it will do so?
  • Has the charity’s approach been reviewed or written about by an objective third party?
  • Does the charity receive feedback from its constituents (those it serves) and use it to improve the quality of services?
  • Does the organization have an independent third party formally evaluate its efforts with some regularity (at least every five years) and make those results publically available?

Once we decide which charities to support, it is important for us to tell others about all that we are doing, whether we are giving our money, our time or another resource altogether. It seems more often than not, much of the good we do goes unnoticed in our communities, primarily because we are shy about patting ourselves on the back, but we need to be more vocal about our contributions. As you may remember from The NATSO Show, I issued a challenge asking all NATSO members to share the good they are doing in their communities. 

We all know that public perception matters and we are always concerned about our image. While plenty of people know the good we do in our communities, we are aware that some have a negative image of our industry. A NATSO goal for 2015 was to enhance the image of our industry through public awareness. Let’s all take it upon ourselves to continue spreading the word about all the good we do throughout the remainder of 2015 and into 2016.

Importantly, we can look to other industries for guidance. Target has large signs in each store that let us know the company donates 5 percent of its income to charities and community programs. Wal-Mart does a terrific job of promoting the donations they make. The Wal-Mart Foundation’s website is full of press releases highlighting the good they do, and every time they give within the community—even if it is a small amount—it seems to make the front page of the regional newspaper. That is because they understand the value that comes from the public knowing that they give.

Each year, operators donate their time, money and resources to charitable organizations, churches and schools. Equally important, we all know NATSO’s Chairman’s Circle members give generously year round to support NATSO and our foundation, but they are also strong contributors within their communities. I know that everyone has a story and we need to start sharing each one. Letting more people know about the good we are doing in our communities will benefit our employees, our businesses and our industry’s image.

Share your stories with the local media, send a press release to the trade press and communicate your news with NATSO. Earlier this year in the January/February issue of Stop Watch, there was an article on five free publicity opportunities you may be passing up. I encourage you all to read it and find ways to toot your own horn. In the long term, this will have a positive impact in the eyes of the public, which will benefit our industry’s image.

Tom Heinz's photo

Tom Heinz

Tom Heinz is President of Heinz, Inc. and Coffee Cup Fuel Stops & Convenience Stores, Inc. Tom’s thirty-seven year business career has been in different segments of the petroleum industry. Tom’s primary business and day job began 31 years ago as co-founder/owner of Coffee Cup Fuel Stops www.coffeecupfuelstops.com. Tom received the following degrees: Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Master of Science in Human Resources, and Master of Business Administration from Beacom School of Business at the University of South Dakota. Presently, Tom serves on the University of South Dakota Foundation Board of Directors, Vermillion, South Dakota, NATSO Foundation Board of Directors, Alexandria, VA, Dakota Hospital Board of Directors, Vermillion, SD., and is a member of David Nelson Petroleum Marketers 300 Study Group.More
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