Super Service Challenge: A Wonderful Concept for Corporate Philanthropy!
I was recently invited to a reception called the Super Service Challenge through The Salvation Army's involvement with DEFENDER. This outstanding Indianapolis-based company provides a model example of philanthropy for others to follow. It believes in having its employees engage with a variety of charities, providing much needed services to the communities they serve. Employees are encouraged to be philanthropic and are given four days off each year with pay, as long as time off results in volunteerism.
I must admit I did not know what to expect at the reception. What I witnessed was a wonderful concept and tribute to those who believe in helping others.
In 2011, Dave Lindsey, founder of DEFENDER, created the Super Service Challenge. This challenge helped direct company donations to the projects and causes that mattered to his employees in a meaningful way. Lindsey noticed that employees serving together to help others changed the way employees viewed each other and had a positive impact on company morale. As he put it, "DEFENDER transformed from a giving company to a company of givers." In the first year, 80 teams participated to give $200,000 to charity.
In 2012, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees partnered with the Super Service Challenge through the Brees Dream Foundation and agreed to be its national spokesperson. He took the challenge to New Orleans. This growth resulted in 250 teams engaged to give $1 million to a variety of nonprofits. Through his leadership, a local effort became national in scope over time. This resulted in having over 700 companies from 42 states participating.
In 2013, more than 2,200 teams submitted service projects, and $1.6 million was given away to nonprofits. Partnerships were developed with 9/11 Day of Service, A Billion Plus Change, Brees Dream and Points of Light. A variety of national celebrities such as Justin Tuck, Michael Strahan, Clark Kellogg, Katie Couric, Hoda Kotb and Hunter Smith, as well as prominent media including CNN, ESPN, "Today Show," Fox News, The Huffington Post and USA Today promoted this effort.
In 2014, the focus was on growing the number of businesses and charities nationally. Over 1,100 charities were served in 41 states.
At the reception I attended, Super Service Challenge leadership reviewed the process of engagement by charities. Volunteers submit their stories of service with two-minute or less videos that answer how you served and what impact serving together had on your team. It was noted that each company can serve multiple nonprofits or the same nonprofit multiple times.
This challenge concept continued to encourage new businesses to join the effort and bring new nonprofits on board. At the reception, three $25,000 award winners were announced for 2014. During the week of the 2015 Super Bowl, Brees will announce that one of these charities will receive the grand prize of an additional $25,000 for $50,000 total. In addition, 10 entries received $10,000 each, 400 entries received $1,000 each and 800 entries received $500 each.
The top three entries in 2014 were the group Avnet, benefiting HandsOn Greater Phoenix; CRF Inc., benefiting Felege Hiywot Center in Indiana; and Raising Cane's group, benefiting Youth Rebuilding New Orleans in Louisiana.
What a total concept of philanthropy! The Super Service Challenge will continue to grow in dollars raised, volunteers participating and individuals using their talents to promote media coverage for each entry. That is the ultimate in time, talent and treasure in my book.
There were several hundred people at the Super Service Challenge reception representing many organizations and nonprofits. I was very proud that The Salvation Army was represented by organizations and volunteers. We also received some funding support. It is exciting to watch, and I hope the Super Service Challenge grows through the years.
I especially thank Dave Lindsey, DEFENDER and Drew Brees for having a vision. Every participant left the event with a present that was a key. I was told the key represents having you unlock the part of your being that serves others with a passion. In the future, I will use this key to tell amazing stories of community service and challenge others to join this effort. To learn more about this concept go to www.superservicechallenge.com. You will be glad you did!
F. Duke Haddad, EdD, CFRE, is currently associate director of development, director of capital campaigns and director of corporate development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. In addition, he is also president of Duke Haddad and Associates, LLC, and freelance instructor for Nonprofit Web Advisor.
He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the past 13 years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis on education administration, master’s degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor’s degree from West Virginia University in business administration, with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also done post graduate work at the University of Louisville.