2016 Top 5: Charities doing important work

Continuing my Top 5 recap of 2016, I will highlight 5 of my favorite charities doing awesome work. I donate to them, and hope you will too!

#1 – Affirmation – LGBT Mormons, Families, and Friends

Affirmation is literally a life saver. It has literally saved my life. In my darkest times as I have struggled with the complexities and disappointments of being a gay Mormon, Affirmation has been a shining star. Knowing that there are others like me who have come through the dark times has gone a long way towards keeping me moving forward.

Recently, Affirmation has been expanding its work in Central and South America, where the need is even greater than it is here in the USA. Donating to Affirmation will help move forward this important work.

#2 – Liahona Children’s Foundation

Liahona Children’s Foundation focuses on alleviating malnutrition in LDS families in third-world countries. Most recently, the foundation is serving in 17 countries around the world, helping ensure that the most vulnerable children and familes receive the nutrition and education that will enable them to thrive.

#3 – Oxfam

Oxfam is a global organization focusing on alleviating poverty and injustice.  Oxfam is often on the ground after natural disasters and has been fighting for refugees and other displaced persons. After the horrific images coming out of Syria and Turkey over the last few years, I have been motivated to do something to help. Oxfam has been my charity of choice for disaster relief and immediate relief of poverty on a global scale.

#4 – Growing Hope

On the opposite end of the scale from Oxfam, Growing Hope is a local charity focusing on food security in Ypsilanti and neighboring areas. They help food-insecure families learn about gardening by building out raised bed gardens and providing seedlings. They also run several farmers markets in the Ypsilanti area, making fresh vegetables and fruits more accessible to local residents.

#5 – Equality Michigan / Equality Wyoming

Again, I’m really bad at keeping to only five on my list.  I donate to local organizations fighting for equality for LGBT people. The Great Trans Bathroom Panic of 2016 only highlighted for me the need for more people on the ground advocating for compassion and equality on a local level.

 

Those are my top 5 charitable organizations. Looking over them for patterns, it seems I support organizations that focus on food security, poverty relief, and advocacy for marginalized and LGBT people.

What causes do you support?  I’ve got an extra $100 that I will split between the first 5 charities you mention here or on my Facebook page.

Great Customer Service

I recently finished reading Zingerman’s Guide to Giving Great Service.  I’ve been obsessing with Zingerman’s Bakehouse breads lately and I have a Zing BAKE! class on my schedule for later this month, so when I saw this book on the audiobook shelf at the Library, I jumped at the chance.

It was read by the author, Ari Weinzweig, who outrageously gave his office phone number out at the beginning, saying that anyone who had questions could just call his office to discuss. Talk about service!  Anyhow, he talked a lot about ways that good companies could give good service, and while I have forgotten the finer details of it, I do know that I know great service when I see it.  (Here’s a link to their 5 steps for dealing with a complaint, along with some of their other customer service mantras)

I wanted to call out and give examples of two companies that recently left me pleasantly surprised by their approach to customer service.

The first is Woot.com.  I had recently ordered a box of batteries. (Skynet is eating them for lunch.)  When I got the box, I opened it up to find that instead of 72 AA batteries, I had 72 AAA batteries. In all of my life, I don’t think I will use that many AAA batteries.  I wrote in to ask about an exchange, because I really did want those AAs.  I got a quick email acknowledging that my correct order was on its way.

A day or two later, Woot sent out the following email, presumably to all the customers who had purchased batteries during that particular sale.

Dear Battery Lover,

How many times have you gone to the store to buy AA batteries, picked up what you thought was the correct package, paid for it, taken it home… and only then noticed you bought the wrong freakin’ type? You always feel kinda dumb, right? Now imagine if you did that something like one thousand times in a row.

Which is our way of saying that yes, we DID finally notice that we sent you the wrong batteries. If you ordered AA you got AAA and vice versa. We’re the goofballs here and we’re sorry for the mistake. Now, let’s tell you how we’re makin’ it right.

FIRST: keep those batteries we sent you. Put ’em in your remote or your smoke detector or penlight or whatever. They’re yours now. Enjoy!

SECOND: Be aware we’re sending you the batteries you actually wanted, at no additional charge. They’re the ones you asked for, right? Of course you still want ’em!

And please, learn from our mistakes. Always count the number of A’s in your battery type. Always.

Apologetically,
Woot.com

Super awesome, right?  Here’s what they did right:
#1 – They acknowledged that there was a problem
#2 – They apologized sincerely and with a sense of humor
#3 – They made it right, and they made it easy. (I was ready to ship the AAAs back to them)

I have long loved Woot for the sense of humor that they bring to everything that they do.

The second example I wanted to share was the great way Nature Box handled my request to cancel my service.  Let me tell you right up front, I like Nature Box’s service. Basically, you sign up for a $20/month subscription and they send you a box of snacks each month. I felt like it was good value for money, and the snacks were tasty and healthy.  I decided ultimately that mye money was better spent on something else, but I highly recommend the service. (Try the Lemon Pucker Pistachios. You won’t regret it!)

Normally, you don’t praise a company for how they treat you when you cancel, but they did me right.  I knew that if I called they’d try to keep me subscribing, so I went the email route.  This is how it unfolded:

Dear Naturebox-
I’d like to cancel my subscription please and thank you. It is a lovely service, but I think at this time, my priorities lie elsewhere. I have enjoyed my time with you, and let me assure you, it’s not you, it’s me. 😉

Best-
Brady Emmett

Hi Brady,

Thanks so much for your message! I’m sad to hear that you want to cancel your NatureBox subscription

You have been a wonderful customer of ours for so long and I can’t explain how much we appreciate that! We miss you already just thinking about it. [yadda yadda… retention sales pitch deleted here – bpe]

Don’t feel bad if you are not interested, I really just wanted to let you know about this before you go. If you would rather part ways, let me down easy with a simple response to this email 😉

Thank you very much for all you have done for our company. If you have any questions, I am all ears. I really look forward to hearing from you soon!
Andrew

Andrew C.
Professional Snack Concierge since 2013

Hey Andrew-
I really think we should see other people. Maybe at some point in the future (I really liked the Lemon Pucker Pistachios. Those were good times.)
Let’s remember the good in the relationship. 😉

Thanks for cancelling my account!

Best-
Brady

Hi Brady,

Thanks for kind let down haha I speak for the entire NatureBox family when I say, I am sad to see you go 🙁 That being said, I’ve gone ahead and cancelled your subscription. We will not charge your card from this point forward and you should receive an email confirming this shortly.

Remembering the good times,
Andrew C.

I don’t know if you caught that, but my professional snack conceirge played along with me. He had a script, sure, and what kind of customer service rep doesn’t, but he broke out of it to respond directly to me and it honestly left me with a huge smile. If I didn’t have a rule about how many subscriptions I can have at any one time, I totally would have resubscribed right then and there. I still highly recommend it (If you want to try it out, this is my referral link: http://fbuy.me/MFds you get $10 off, and I get a $10 credit, which I will happily spend).

So, that’s how you do great customer service.  Have you had any good experiences with customer service? What about awful ones?

PS If you want a revelation, try Zingerman’s Chocolate Cherry bread. If you are family, and you come visit me, I will buy you some. 😀

Smiling

SheYesterday, Labor Day 2011, was a pretty great day.  I was surrounded by people and things that I love. Of the many many wonderful moments, one stood out that I wanted to share.

As I was shopping at Meijer for a BBQ later that day, I was wandering down the milk aisle and I noticed an old lady standing with a cart off to the side.  We’re talking very old, oxygen tank old.  In the cart was a baby in a car seat.  For no real reason, I made eye contact and gave the woman a big grin, just because I was feeling so good. (I whistled a Guster song that was stuck in my head through the entire store, I was feeling that good.)  And you know what, she gave me a genuine smile back.

And it made my day.

Thanksgiving Moments

I am thankful for lots of things.  I am especially thankful for the friends who shared Thanksgiving with me. 

I only got one picture out of the deal, so I stole a few more from Facebook.

This is what my Thanksgiving looked like this year. (It’s too bad I can’t share the taste with you as well!)

Dinner Time

Last Minute Pumpkin

I didn’t think that I was going to squeeze a pumpkin carving into my festivities this Halloween, but thanks to a timely FHE activity, I got one carved just in the nick of time.  I tried lighting it up, but the pumpkin is really really thick.  I need to work the walls down a little bit before the effect really works.

So, in all, I managed to work in The Haunting, Chicken Shish Tawook, Count Chocula, a Cider Mill (and the resulting cider!), coloring, Catching Fire, Dominion: Seaside, refusing to dance, blue hairspray, “For All the Saints”, The Lord of all Catan, pork roast, butterfinger brownies, and pumpkin carving into my birthday weekend.  That’s pretty good, right?  What did you do?

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