Why Buy the Cow (when you can get the milk for free)

My department is currently in a “competition” with other groups in the company to raise the most money for a specific charity. Only one charity has been selected, and all proceeds will go directly to that organization, so the competition is purely friendly in nature. That said, each department head has been tasked with finding creative methods by which to encourage employees to “dig deep” and donate.

Show Me the Money

The “fund leader” for my department decided to put an empty jar next to the coffee machine, with a sign suggesting donations for use of the machine, cups, creamer, sugar, etc. This is all well and good, except for the fact that the coffee has always been free!

coffee
You know you love it

I am not a coffee drinker, so even if there was a charge, it would not drastically affect me. I sometimes enjoy the hot chocolate option from the machine, but if that were to go away, it wouldn’t ruin my day (and would probably be better for my waistline!). I also understand that this was meant solely as a means by which to increase donations. There have been a few snide remarks around the office, but for the most part people seem to understand this fact.

The “fund leader” does have the ability to ‘switch’ the machine so that it actually requires payment, but she has promised not to take things to that extreme. This was a good choice, as I’m sure it would only turn people against donating.

Straight From the Heart

There are other things at play here, but in the interest of time, let me simply state that this is never a good practice to get into. If you currently provide something (product, information, service) free-of-charge, don’t change it one day to a pay method. And if you do decide to go that route, expect a sharp decline in your customers/visitors/clients.

I do believe most people will contribute to a cause or pay for a service, if that model is established up front. But pulling a ‘bait and switch’ routine can — in a short amount of time — cause irreversible damage to your company’s reputation, and ultimately your bottom line.

by Cuesta Benito
Residential Life Magazine

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