Challenge: During the great recession, I worked for an association that had a number of unplanned public policy/advocacy issues that required significant, unbudgeted campaign dollars. Because the economy was tough, discretionary corporate investments were scarcer and tighter than ever. Asking members to increase their dues or sponsorships to raise $1 million in incremental revenue to pay for these initiatives would have been an uphill battle. We needed a new, innovative approach—a revolutionary fundraising campaign.
Solution: My team brainstormed a number of potential new business ideas that might raise enough money to fund the proposed government affairs campaigns. After quite a bit of trial and error (actually, the final concept went through three dozen iterations before it was launched), we convinced more than two dozen members to donate large quantities of travel products and services which we would deeply discount and market on an online, 30-day ‘flash sale’. Once the inventory was sold out, the association would retain the proceeds to pay for the advocacy effort.
Unfortunately, the association didn’t have the technology, resources, expertise or cash to build the necessary transactional website. Our only option was to reach out to one of our largest Allied members (whose business has a huge online presence) to see if they could help. More specifically, would they be willing to donate their services to cover the design cost, construction and management of the new site. Fortunately, they said yes, and a few months later, Daily Getaways was launched.
Results :In its first year, Daily Getaways exceeded its target raising $1.1 million in net proceeds. Last year the program raised $2.2 million and since inception has raised $16.6 million in funds dedicated to support the association's public affairs efforts.
"I've always appreciated Gary's bias toward action, innovative mindset and his persistence to convert conceptual ideas into reality. Whether it was bringing the concept of Daily Getaways to life with American Express or converting a vague idea of convincing Americans to take more vacation into a travel industry movement, Gary has always risen to the occasion."
Greg Hybl, VP & GM Enterprise Partnerships-American Express