The Warehouse Sends Tents back to China

The Warehouse managed to get loads of publicity about the story of getting a request from the Chinese Embassy, recalling their tent stock from the branches and selling them to the Chinese at a substantial discount.

This sort of fits in to my previous story about getting great mileage from a PR opportunity. The NZ Herald gave them a nice story and they even got coverage with TVNZ.

I don’t want to pick on The Warehouse, (note there is no mention on their website, an opportunity missed) they did a nice thing, but lets look at the opportunity from a business and marketing perspective.

First it is autumn and the likelihood of selling more than a handful of the 1200 odd tents before spring is negligable, so they become aged stock, take up valuable room in their stores or their warehouses which costs money.

There are only 1200 of them and they probably paid next to nothing for them. The heavily subsidised price would probably be similar to their FOB and holding cost and the Chinese Embassy probably did them a huge favour.

Wouldn’t it have been better to do a big song and dance about their benevolence and GIVE THEM to China. They can write it off as charitable donations and win huge favour from the Chinese community. The additional business and goodwill they would have generated would far outway the small cost of these items. Now that would be newsworthy!

Bottom line, nice story but could have been far better for them. Also a thought for the people of the Sichuan Province in China. I can’t comprehend the devastation those poor people have suffered. Speaking of PR, what a difference between the way the Chinese Government handled this situation and the disgusting situation in Myanmar.

Myanmar and others needing aid and not getting it

I have a real problem with donating to aid organisations when so often it seems that the military, government, war lords or whomever runs a country has control over whether the aid gets to the people that need it.

It was pleasing to hear today that the military rulers have eased restrictions a little on allowing aid workers to send food, blankets, medicine etc into the devastated areas, but I also read that to date only 25% of the people stranded and hopeless have received anything.

On TV I see and hear about stockpiles of donated goods that sit at airports while people are starving, dehydrating and suffering from illness caused by the contaminated water and food. Yesterday I was listening to the latest Digital Planet podcast and they had interviews from people who said a truck arrived in their emergency compound with rescue aids including enough water to supply one family!

So PM Brown is telling the rulers of Myanmar to lift aid restrictions. Big Deal! Didn’t he tell Mugabe to play fair as well, didn’t that make a big difference.

So here’s the thing. We see advertisements on TV all the time about donating funds to all sorts of organisations to send supplies to countries in need. Then on news stories we see evidence of those same supplies stockpiling in warehouses or simply dissapearing between arrival and the people it was supposed to go to. There is a real credibility issue. I don’t mind donating, but I restrict it to charities or organisations that convince me that they are actually doing something. I think most people feel the same way, we don’t mind going without a little if we have evidence that what we are giving genuinely goes to the people who need it, irrespective of their politics or allegiances and doesn’t get enjoyed by people who don’t need it, or who out of their thirst for power allow other people to die of thirst, hunger and malnutrition.

I love programs like Idol Gives Back because they show evidence of results. They seem to show that people are doing better as a consequence and if they were here I would have given some koha (Maori for unconditional gift). But having seen so many examples of the generosity being abused, I generally limit most of my donations to local needs such as Hospice, Child Cancer and the Foundation for the Blind, being charities I trust and where I can see where my money is being spent. This is sad because many possibly very hnest and capable organisations miss out, not because they are doing anything wrong, but because people like the Myanmar Junta stop them from doing their work.