person.”It all went through my desk, said Crystal Wertz, director of marketing for Chuckals. “It definitely was coming from all
different areas.”It’s much of the same at Bruce Titus Automotive Group; on top of weekly requests for smaller donations, the company
receives about five requests for a free car donation.”I don’t think they do grasp the overwhelming volume (of requests),” said Barbara Dobbins, marketing director at Bruce
Titus Automotive Group, about the general public’s perception of how much businesses are asked to give. “I probably
receive, at height of the season, which we are approaching, 20 to 30 requests a week.”
To handle the influx of donation requests they receive, South Sound businesses have been trying to implement various
processes and strategies. Rainier Connect, for example, has created a committee at each of its locations to decide on what
the company should support. Pacific Grill, on the other hand, has been working on a way to automate their requests.
“We get a ton of donation requests,” said Jacob Rose, marketing manager for Pacific Grill. “It’s a lot of putting information
into our own Excel file. I have a big stack of donations I need to go through. We get quite a few pretty much every day.”
When Emily Reiter first started at Totem Ocean Trailer Express she discovered the company had a robust corporate giving
program, but the management of it was challenging.
“You have lots and lots of organizations requesting support, because we serve Washington and Alaska,” Reiter said, adding
that she even started trying to create an online database to track the company’s giving.
That effort became unnecessary when Reiter learned about GIVINGtrax, a shared marketplace for business, employee and
GIVINGtrax easily allows businesses to share on social media which nonprofits they do support.
Those looking for a request and see the criteria businesses have for making donations can fill out an online form that is
directly sent to a company. The business then accepts, changes or declines the requests, all on GIVINGtrax.
Karrie Hungerford, co-founder and CEO of GIVINGtrax, knows all about the struggles businesses face when it comes to
donation requests. In fact, it was the challenges Hungerford and her husband, Lance, faced owning Round Table Pizza sites
in the South Sound that caused her to seek out a giving solution.
“When the economy tanked, suddenly our sales plummeted and we realized we were giving more than what we were
making in the stores,” said Hungerford, who has a tech background. “We needed awareness of what we were doing in the
community, particularly in the light of “Go Local.” Oftentimes, we are viewed as a corporate entity, but really, we are
To see what other businesses’ best practices were, Hungerford, Lance and co-founder Courtney Titus did their research.
Hungerford said she conducted interviews with other businesses and nonprofits in the area.
She discovered her business was not alone when it came not only to receiving numerous donation requests, but also
searching for a way to let the community know when donations and sacrifices were made.
“There is a need across the board from the smallest bistro to a large business,” Hungerford said.
“The Facebook of giving”
The team behind GIVINGtrax decided to make it a cloud-based service, so a company could do more than just organize
and respond to incoming donation requests. The company can also receive employee input about different giving projects
and even involve customers in the giving process.
“It’s very simple to use,” Hungerford said, adding that the process is free to nonprofits and groups asking for donations
and starts at an $8.95 monthly fee for businesses that sign up. “Our goal is to become the Facebook or LinkedIn of giving.”
GIVINGtrax launched in beta form in October and went officially live March 1. Already, area companies are queuing up to
Rose said Pacific Grill is launching a new website and believes once it gets the GIVINGtrax widget up on the site, the
donation process will start running much more smoothly.
“It’s going to help us in the future,” Rose said. “(We will) start letting people know this is how you do the requests. We
don’t want you to mail us anything anymore.”
Lorie Lee, marketing specialist for Rainier Connect, said her company was interested in GIVINGtrax for the organization it
provided, but also for another reason as well.
“We have been a big supporter in the local area of a wide variety of nonprofits. What we were looking for was a way to
bring that all together and help connect other businesses with nonprofits,” she said. “GIVINGtrax is a great tool to do that.”
Already, Lee has connected with some nonprofits on GIVINGtrax, but is looking forward to when more nonprofits subscribe
to the service.
“We believe that connectivity makes a difference,” she said. “When we give back to different pieces, everyone benefits.
This gives us a way in today’s market that everything is social and very fast. We can pull together all the pieces of the
puzzle and make it seamless.”
Once Bruce Titus Automotive Group was introduced to GIVINGtrax, Dobbins got immediately excited.
“It saves me time, and since in this industry, time is money, it saves me money,” she said.
Dobbins is especially interested in the ways the service allows her to reach out to all of the company’s employees for input
and participation in different giving campaigns.
“We very much encourage our employees as an organization to get involved in their community,” she said, adding that this
form of communication is more efficient than what she was previously doing. “It was like trying to build a house with a
hammer (versus) the heel of my shoe.”
TOTE has also been using GIVINGtrax in its beta form and, as Reiter said, “so far so good.”
“We are still figuring it out,” she said. “All indications are this is going to help us remain more paperless and more
collaborative and, hopefully, have a better tracking system for organizations that we are supporting.”
While Reiter appreciates all of the opportunities GIVINGtrax brings to the nonprofit and business communities, she decided
to pass on one of the GIVINGtrax features.
“I chose not to be a part of that general giving community and just have people find GIVINGtrax through our website,” she
said. “It’s not a matter of us needing to cast a wider net per se or putting ourselves out there to be found. We want to
concentrate on organizations we have relationships with.”
Still, even having the GIVINGtrax page connected to TOTE’s site may cause more people to recognize the amount of
community work the company actually supports. This type of marketing opportunity is especially important to businesses
in the South Sound.
Wertz said Chuckals isn’t always able to send out a press release when it makes a community contribution, so a service
like GIVINGtrax will help small businesses to a better job of marketing their generosity.
“We are a local company, and as a local company it’s always great that you give back to your own community,” Wertz
said. “We live and breathe that story. When you purchase from a local business, it stays in the community.”
Once a company does make a gift, Hungerford said, the business could choose whether or not to share the word socially
and whether it want to put the news on its GIVINGtrax page.
“For the first time, the community will have insight into where is the money being spent,” she said. “In the past, there was
not insight into business giving.”
In no way, though, does Hungerford believe this insight will harm the nonprofit community or cause businesses to give
“GIVINGtrax doesn’t circumvent the way nonprofits do business now. It’s meant to streamline,” she said. “The goal is to
have all of the process happen more effectively and to empower the nonprofits to give value back to the businesses, so
they give more.”