Are You Doing Good?
Calling all nonprofits seeking funding for community projects. (Are there any that aren't?) Tom's of Maine recently launched its 50 States for Good challenge in which it is seeking organizations from all 50 states to apply for sponsorship of community projects.
The application phase ends Aug. 30. Organizations are encouraged to visit the 50 States for Good Web site, download the application and submit it for community projects that need funding support. All applications received by the deadline will go through an initial screening by an external panel consisting of members of nonprofit organizations and nonprofit bloggers, where applications will be judged based on:
- Achievability (30 percent), i.e., is the project something that can be completed and measured within six months?
- Positive impact (35 percent). How will the program make a positive impact on the community? What enduring change will come from it?
- Community involvement (35 percent). How does the project engage and involve members of the community in which the organization operates?
The 50 applications that make it through the screening to phase two will then be featured on the Tom's of Maine Web site and voted on by the public. The top five winners will be announced in November, be featured on the Tom's of Maine Web site and be awarded $20,000 each toward their goals.
I had a chance to talk to Rob Robinson, common good partnership director for Tom's of Maine, and Susan Dewhirst, media and public relations manager for Tom's of Maine, about the program.
FundRaising Success: How did the 50 States for Good program come about?
Rob Robinson: We're always looking to policies and programs that are about doing good — doing good in the community, making sure that we're making a positive difference for people and for the environment. We've also had some policies in place that are really about, "How do you interact and engage with your consumers?" [We understand] that they're our most valuable resource and that we can really learn a lot from them. I think the benefit of when you're working with a company where you have the opportunity to interact with people that are out there doing good things, over time you come to realize, "Wow, there's really a lot of people out there that are doing these good things for their communities, really trying to make a difference."
Oftentimes they do need some support to do this work. So I think this program really was about bringing those two things together where we're essentially saying, "Look, we know that there are people out there doing good things in their communities, and we'd like to help support them."
At the same time we also recognize that it's really together — when we work together with our consumers, when we work together with our retailers — that we have the most ability to make a positive difference. So this program basically just opens up our support in a way where we're actually asking our consumers to help us decide where the money goes.
FS: Why is the program called "50 States for Good"?
Susan Dewhirst: We've dubbed it 50 States for Good because we're trying to galvanize a lot of different people, a lot of different types of organizations to apply. If you go to 50 States for Good, it goes right to the page that has a map. Throughout the summer and fall, that will be populated as we get applications from different states. So you can tell if an application has been sent in from your state throughout the summer. So that's sort of an interesting thing to watch. And if your state hasn't been represented, you can get some people together or contact an organization you work with and mobilize to put an application in.
After the applications close at the end of August, in September you can get on and start voting for your favorite organizations, and I think that's going to be a really fun way for our consumers to interact with Tom's of Maine and to give their opinions about what we should be doing now. Certainly we'll take into consideration their votes and the information that they give us as we move forward in developing programs in the future.
FS: How can organizations be considered?
RR: The first step, obviously, would be coming to our Web site, checking out the materials and, ideally, hopefully when they read it they can think of a project that they're working on that this funding actually would make a difference for them and would help them do the work that they're trying to do. So that would be a great way for them to get involved. Outside of that, we're always looking for people to spread the word as well.