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storage gives
Make An Impact
Learn How To Give Back
By Alonna Ross
cardboard boxes filled with toys

ave you ever wondered how you can get more involved in your local community and be a part of giving back? Your self-storage facility is the perfect place to start!

Over my career in self-storage, I have worked with large and small operators on brainstorming ways to give back. One of my favorite and simpler ways to start is collecting donations at your facility. You can pick what you want to collect and who will receive it. How many times have you watched people move into your facility using blankets to cover some of their breakable items? Probably quite a few times. One great and easy option is to do a blanket drive that benefits your local animal shelter or homeless shelter as they are almost always in need. I would recommend doing a blanket drive in the late summer and early fall before the need for blankets is immediate; that gives you time to gather your donations.

Another popular option for gathering donations is a canned food drive at your location. Most of our leases clearly state that you are not to store food in your storage unit as this attracts rodents and insects. You can place a sign near your front desk that reminds tenants that food is not to be stored in their unit and can be placed in the donation box in your office. We see these donations come up a lot during the holidays, however people are in need of food all year long, so this is a wonderful way to give back and hopefully help prevent food from being stored in your storage units.

Not all acts of service need to be donation based though. Turn your volunteer activities into a team building experience …
How many times have you opened a storage unit and found mountains of papers, newspapers, or magazines? Another great way to give back to your community is to host a local shred-a-thon in partnership with a local paper shredding company. Helping your community can consist of going green and encouraging those in your community to recycle by giving them a place to do this. This not only helps the planet, but it also drives traffic to your storage facility—people who may not have known they had a storage facility so close by their home or office.

Not all acts of service need to be donation based though. Turn your volunteer activities into a team building experience and find a weekend to do a walk for your charity of choice. As humans, we are all a little competitive, so you can even challenge employees to a friendly competition. One of my favorite events to participate in every year is the Autism Speaks Walk. My youngest son is autistic, as am I, so this is a charity that is near and dear to our family. We participate in this walk every year and I have had many coworkers join in over the years. When we founded StorageGives.org, and our team was able to select a charity of our choosing to support, I knew right away I was going to pick Autism Speaks. According to the Autism Speaks website, “The Autism Speaks Walk is the world’s largest autism fundraising event dedicated to supporting the needs of people with autism and their families throughout their life’s journey. The Autism Speaks Walk brings together people with autism and the parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, relatives, and providers in a network of friendship and support. Funds raised help fuel innovative research, advocacy, and critical programs and services.”

Partnering with self-storage-specific charity organizations like StorageGives is also a wonderful way to give back on a broader scale. When self-storage operators are hosting their auctions on StorageAuctions.com, they have the option to participate with StorageGives. The operator is then able to select the percentage from each of their online auctions to go to charity. The majority of operators who are using StorageAuctions.com and donating to StorageGives are giving 10 percent of their winning bid to charity. We make this process as easy as possible for the operator from beginning to end. Once a unit is sold online, we charge the buyer’s credit card for the 10 percent StorageGives donation and 100 percent of what we collect goes directly to charity. The facility does not need to worry about cutting a check to the charity at the end of the auctions as it is all handled by the auction software. The operators can view their StorageGives dashboard to see how much each location was able to raise for charity that month and the impact they are making not only in their community but across the globe. When the StorageGives team was selecting charities to support, we looked into every single charity to make sure the majority of the money donated was going to the charity and not the administration of the charity as that was especially important to us.

a crowd people walking through a blow-up arch
When you are giving back, I highly recommend that you take photos of your team participating, your donation boxes in the office, and/or flyers showing you have an event taking place at your facility. These photos can be shared on your various social media platforms to help bring awareness to the cause you were supporting as well as telling others in your community how they can give back. Marketing 101 has shown us that people browsing our social media do not want to just see what move-in specials you have or what day your auctions are taking place. They want to see the smiling manager behind the counter, and they want to see your employees doing things like giving back to the community.

In the past couple of years, I have seen more and more companies offering VTO (volunteer time off) to their employees on a yearly basis. An employee will get 8 hours of paid time off to go volunteer in their community during business hours. These 8 hours can be broken up in most cases so they can do volunteering in shifts if needed. The employee will have a form filled out by the charity where they volunteered to provide proof of their volunteer hours to their employer. By offering VTO, this allows your employees to pick the specific charity they want to volunteer with and get paid for doing it.

No matter how small or big your individual efforts are when it comes to giving back to your community, know that we can all make a significant impact when working together to give back.

Alonna Ross is the business development manager of StorageAuctions.com.