There is little doubt that the past few years have seen some amazing changes within the network of Nationwide Marketing Group. This list includes the merger of Nationwide and MEGA Group USA, the acquisition of Site on Time, the scaled investment in RWS and AdRocket, and an array of new business services, marketing tools and much more. As a result, today’s members are enjoying the benefits of the group’s unprecedented scale, the unification of the independent channel, and easy access to the innovative and powerful tools and services that enable success.
Many of these opportunities have been the result of promises delivered. In 2018, five commitments were made to the Nationwide membership, and the growth in each has been rewarding. However, perhaps the most personally rewarding promise delivered has resulted from the joint commitment made by the entire network – members, vendor partners and Nationwide. That promise: each time we come together, we will give back.
Collectively, Nationwide’s scale allows the group to not just give but give big. Some 5,500 companies fielding more than 14,000 storefronts creates the largest–scale buying, marketing and business services opportunities in the industry. It is, after all, what your group is designed to provide. However, and perhaps even more impressive, has been the impact this network has created when, together, we’ve given back. And the giving just keeps growing.
Like many of your companies, Nationwide has always been commited to give back to the community through charitable contributions. However, when we began to develop a collective give–back program some five years ago, we underestimated the true power this group possesses. Since we made our joint commitment, lives have been changed.
In just two short years, together we’ve packed almost 1,000,000 meals for hungry children. Those meals have fought child hunger around the corner and around the world. The partnership with the amazing folks at No Child Hungry continues. There is little doubt that together in New Orleans, that one-millionth meal will be packed. Who could have dreamed it would come so quickly? When the project began, our own best hopes would have projected the million mark would happen somewhere in 2021 or 2022. What a great time to be wrong!
It’s been more than meals. Sure, those collective efforts at PrimeTime garner a lot of attention, but they only tell a small part of the story. In the past two years, as gatherings have happened across the group’s network, the giving has been ever-present.
- In addition to the meals packed in Las Vegas this past February, some 1,100 mattresses were donated for orphanages in the No Child Hungry network.
- A member meeting in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, assembled thousands of backpack buddy kits to help kids in food–insecure homes have enough to eat. This effort supplemented the program’s need for summer support, which had previously been dire. In addition, members went a step further and donated thousands of dollars directly to the program’s modest budget, funding their efforts to supply clothing and shoes. In addition, more backpack buddy kits were built at events in Atlanta, Georgia.
- We’ve seen hurricane relief efforts, with dealers of all sizes and from every corner of the country pitching in to help. There were cash donations, supplies sent and care packages assembled. And there were members of the Nationwide network on planes for the sole purpose of getting boots on the ground in affected areas to lend helping hands to the recovery efforts.
- California experienced tragic wildfires, and Nationwide members and vendors circled the wagons in support of our own, refusing to let a wildfire snuff out the Independent’s flame.
- Christmas food drives, complete with some friendly competition and bragging rights on the line, helped those in need and stocked countless meals into food banks for the Christmas season.
- More than 100 bicycles were assembled and donated to Toys for Tots.
- Thousands of hygiene kits were built for homeless veterans by the Advisory Board at their meeting in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and at the HTSN CI Summit in Phoenix, Arizona. The Advisory Board went a step further again, this time raising more than $10,000 to purchase electronic wheelchairs for Chattanooga veterans in need.
The heart and soul of the independent channel has never been more evident. Not only are independent retailers the backbone of the American economy, but they’re also the backbone of the American community.
There are many reasons to be proud to be affiliated with Nationwide, but none top this. I’ve never encountered so many people, so willing to help others, and so willing to give. The magic of it all, at least to me, is in the sweat equity. While impactful and much needed to support great causes, it’s fairly easy to write a check. It’s something all-together different to get involved. The willing hands, working together, have made the real difference. It again proves just how powerful this network is.
Today, giving is part of our group DNA. I love arriving at an event and having folks ask before the event even begins what the give–back opportunity will be. I love hearing ideas from across the network on how we can do more, how we can do it better, and where a new need might reside. Please keep it coming! Engage us. Let’s work together, and let’s keep giving back!
Thank you so much for all you’ve done in this joint commitment!
Mike Whitaker is