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Beyond the bottom line
Each month, our sister publication, DC Velocity, publishes a brief news item variously titled "Good deeds," "Logistics gives back," or (when we're feeling a bit silly) "Monthly mitzvahs." These articles list some recent public service activities and charitable donations by companies in the logistics, material handling, and supply chain space. Some sponsor fundraising events like golf tournaments or road races; others donate money, supplies, and/or their employees' time and labor to local or national charities. Whether small or large, in cash or in kind, these donations can make an appreciable difference to nonprofit organizations.
Over the years that we've been collecting that information, it's become clear that a significant number of businesses in our field have made such "good deeds" part of their corporate culture. Gina Manis-Anderson thinks more companies should do the same—and that if they did, they'd find that the benefits flow in both directions.
Manis-Anderson, a former supply chain executive, is the co-founder and CEO of Savii Group. The firm acts as a buyers advocate to help companies find hidden savings across dozens of product and service categories and is paid based on the amount of money it saves its clients. But Savii also offers its clients something more: the opportunity to direct some of Savii's performance fees to a nonprofit of the client's choice.
Manis-Anderson calls this "Foundraising" (a term the company has trademarked) because the donations do not cut into a company's bottom line; instead, they come from savings uncovered through better management of indirect expenses, including the procurement of supplies and services. Among the companies that have taken advantage of this arrangement are Ulta Beauty Supply, Baker Electric, and Century 21.
Manis-Anderson and her colleagues say they can document that companies achieve a measurable return on investment when they use the financial resources they've freed up through smarter spend and supplier management to fund initiatives that matter to their company, their employees, and their community. It's powerful, she says, when CEOs say to people, "I don't need you to cut your budget by a million dollars. I want you to find a million dollars so you can not only do your job better but also make the world a better place."
The supply chain and procurement functions are well suited to help a business that aims to "marry profits with purpose," as Manis-Anderson puts it. After all, eliminating waste, improving efficiency, and supporting profitable growth are all part of a supply chain organization's charge. From what I can see, you don't have to work for a huge corporation to do as Savii's clients have done. If you're going to provide your company with "found money," why not use some of that windfall for a good cause?
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