As soon the evacuation order was lifted and it was safe to return to our office, the team at Waves and Kawartha mobilized to brainstorm what could be done to assist the relief efforts. We settled on a sales campaign of our popular Forever Cold bottle at a highly discounted price and with all the net proceeds going to help victims of the North Bay Wildfires.
The recipient organization was not immediately selected, as we wanted to perform a full due diligence analysis of where we could be most impactful in our community. Similarly, we were unsure the level of buying and partnership support to expect. Yet we set a 1,000 bottle-sale goal and we went for it full force and with all hands on deck. The Fire Relief Forever Cold campaign ran October 17th through November 8th, and I am so proud to announce we sold a grand total of 1,266 bottles, 130% of our original goal!
Our approach was an unabashed one. We solicited help from every friend, business partner, family member, and colleague we have. Our marketing partners were pulled in from the onset with an appeal for access to their channels, as well. Without hesitation each and every one agreed to support our mission in a variety of ways. Most notably, Gizmodo Media Group cut its traditional marketing fees by well over 50%, a gesture for which we are forever grateful. Other partners followed suit in a wide range of incredible methods.
Internally, our team solicited friends and family, requesting not only individual support, but also that they promote the campaign among their own social channels. Company Ambassadors proved enormously energized by the campaign as well, promoting the efforts through their social channels. Several mass emails were released to our company mailing list, initially announcing the campaign and then progressively following up with notice of campaign advancement.
The result of this wide web we created still brings me the chills; I am overwhelmed having witnessed the outpouring of support from so many different walks of life. Fire Relief Forever Cold sales came from across the U.S., Canada, and even Saudi Arabia. A grand total of 589 people supported this campaign, one of who purchased 60 bottles and 50 others of which spent over $100 on the bottles,
The lingering task was to find a worthy organization that would most benefit from our steadfast campaign.
The Organization: Wine Country Marines
Final selection of the recipient organization happened organically. As I mentioned, our Ambassadors were brought in to help with campaign awareness efforts. Jeff Lemlin is one such Ambassador with a beautiful technique in nature and travel photography, and who is employed as a CalFire firefighter. Jeff received notice in the middle of the night while on a camping trip that fires were blazing back home. Without hesitation he drove 9 hours through the night back to Napa in voluntary call to duty. Jeff did not quit for the 10 days that followed.
Jeff’s house was not affected by the fire, though the blaze had surrounded his neighborhood. However, 40 of Jeff’s CalFire colleagues, the very people who were fighting next to him, were not as lucky. These 40 firefighters lost everything, yet every single one remained focused and engaged, working tirelessly to distinguish the powerful firestorm. They are the reason our office and warehouse still stand, and they are the reason Calistoga, the town where I live, still stands. They are our heroes. Upon hearing this story, it became immediately clear the intention of our campaign: to help those who lost everything yet still fought the fires to ensure the homes and lives of others remained safe.
Jeff then introduced me to his colleague Clint St. Martin, a CalFire firefighter who lost everything. Upon first introduction, I was unaware that Clint’s home had been devastated, and it was not until our second conversation that I figured that out. In our discussions, Clint set aside personal and professional anguish over the recent cataclysmic event and set his focus on assisting us in our quest for a worthy organization to support. I have enormous respect for Clint, and it is people like him that give our campaign a true purpose and heart.
Through Clint, I met retired Colonel Brendan Kearney. Colonel Kearney is on the board of a fantastic charitable organization called Wine Country Marines whose mission is to aid Service Veterans once they return home from battle. This year however, they are splitting their efforts between wildfire relief and veteran aid. Colonel Kearney and I spoke of the campaign and our goal to give back to those first responders who lost everything. With overwhelming enthusiasm for Wine Country Marines to partner in this effort, Colonel Kearney called upon the organization’s board and ensured our entire donation would be put towards our intended goal.
With a $0 operating budget and 100% of fundraising dollars donated, Wine Country Marines, along with Colonel Kearney, has guaranteed that 100% of our donation will go to the relief efforts for first responders who lost their homes.
We have been extremely fortunate to be in close contact with an anonymous family foundation, which has agreed to match the $8,000 in funds we raised and are donating to Wine Country Marines. We cannot thank the family enough for their support in our efforts. With the matching donation from the anonymous family foundation, our effective donation totals $16,000.
It is important that we are transparent about how we arrived at our final donation number. We stated at the beginning of the campaign that we would be donating the net proceeds from the sales. Below is an outline indicating how we determined this figure.
Net Proceeds = Revenue – Costs
Revenue = Total Bottles Sold * Retail Price of Bottles
Cost = Cost of Bottles Sold + Labor + Marketing Fees + Shipping + Transaction Fees
Cost of Bottles Sold = Total Bottles Sold * Landed Cost per Bottle
Labor = Hours Employees Spent on Campaign * Hourly Rate
Marketing Fees = Fees to Marketing Partners + Fees for Marketing Software
Shipping = Shipping Costs above Shipping Costs paid by Customers
Transaction Fees = $0.30 + 2.5% per order
Net Proceeds = $7,709.14
We decided to fund the difference and round that figure up to $8,000.
This past month has been one of the most personally and professionally challenging for our team. But through this experience and witnessing the outpouring of support, we’ve had daily reminders of how generous the human spirit can be. I am continually amazed to see the altruism of friends, family, neighbors and strangers alike through this process.
From the bottom of my heart I want to thank everyone who helped us get to this point, and of course I also want to thank the first responders for keeping us safe.
With heartfelt gratitude,