by Joel Griffin
As part of a new annual tradition at ASIS, Security-Net has decided to take the funds they once used on booth giveaways and instead make a contribution to a charity in the host city of the conference. This year’s recipient, Operation Freedom Paws, trains veterans to train their own dogs and certify them together as a service team as part of a 48-week program. The program helps veterans with post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury and other physical or neurological issues.
One of the time-honored traditions of any tradeshow is the booth giveaway. These giveaways by vendors can range from the extravagant, such as gift cards, tablets and televisions, to mundane everyday items like pens, candy and other small knickknacks.
While these freebies may generate good booth traffic, they may not necessarily result in quality leads for a company. Besides that, giveaways are yet another costly expenditure for vendors who have already made a significant investment in purchasing booth space and on travel accommodations for their employees.
Beginning at ASIS 2014 in Atlanta, Security-Net decided to take a different approach to booth giveaways. Rather than using the money they would have spent on items to give to those who dropped by their booth during the show, the security integration services firm opted instead to take those funds and donate them to a local charity. It’s an annual tradition they’ve decided to carry on at the host city of each ASIS conference after that.
SecurityInfoWatch.com (SIW) recently caught up with Security-Net President Skip Sampson to discuss the organization’s reasons for starting this new ASIS tradition and how they plan to grow it moving forward.
SIW: What initially motivated you to want to give back to a charity in the host city of the annual ASIS conference?
Sampson: We got tired of seeing how much we spent on booth giveaways and some attendees would just swing by the booth and grab whatever they could with-out any regard for what they were taking. So, we decided that if we were going to spend the money we might as well do it where someone would benefit. This started with ASIS in Atlanta in 2014 where we purchased pecans as part of an in-the-booth giveaway and to support the Shepard Foundation in Atlanta for Spinal Cord & Brain Injury Rehabilitation. The organization benefitted because we purchased their pecans and then our clients got something sweet.
Last year when we were in Anaheim, Calif., Caterina’s Club, an organization that supplies over 6,000 warm nutritional meals to underprivileged children each week and provides homeless families with housing assistance, was the beneficiary of our donation. We purchased Fat Ass Fudge and the vendor took their proceeds and handed a check to Chef Bruno, the founder of Caterina’s Club. This donation was enough to put a family in need into their own apartment. We also posted infor-mation in our booth about Caterina’s Club, and a QR code, so that attendees could scan the code and make a donation on the spot.
SIW: Do you have a set amount that you give to each charity or is there something else that determines how much you will give as a part of this initiative?
Sampson: There is not a set amount of dollars budgeted each year, but we do try to always do more than the year before. So far the donations have ranged from $3,500 up to $4,200.
SIW: How do you go about selecting the charity that you’re going to donate to during the conference?
Sampson: Currently, we look for an organization that is local to the region where the ASIS show is located and do a little research on what’s happening in the area and how we can help. This effort has been championed by Gabrielle Kotke, who organizes Security-Net’s ASIS booth and is the Marketing Coordinator for Security-Net.
SIW: What really stood out to you about this year’s recipient, Operation Freedom Paws?
Sampson: Recently Security-Net partners expressed a desire to help veterans. What stood out about this program is that they’re giving comfort and assistance to amazing people who have served our country. The organization trains veterans to train their own dogs and certify them together as a service team as part of a 48-week program. The program helps veterans with post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury and other physical or neurological issues. The program helps veteran’s remain mobile, confident and active. After they com-plete the 48-week training program they are also able to provide service dogs to others in need of assistance.
SIW: What kind of feedback have you received about this annual charity giveaway from others in the industry?
Sampson: Frankly, we have not overly promoted our charitable giving. We decided to talk about it in hopes that other organizations might have had the same thoughts about giveaways that we did. We are committed to this charitable sponsorship plan we have been doing and are ready to challenge others to think about it too.
SIW: Is this an initiative that you’re going to be looking to possibly expand upon in the future?
Sampson: We hope to expand this each year and develop programs to encourage our sponsors to also get behind supporting a charity located near each ASIS location with us.
SIW: How can others in the industry help?
Sampson: It’s incumbent on all of us to help and pay it forward. Pick a charity and if you can’t get in the trenches and physically help out find out how your dollars can best be spent to improve someone’s life and give them an opportunity. It’s important that we give all people the gift of hope.