Friday, July 10, 2020 / by Erik Bjorklund
National Doughnut Day, or National Donut Day, is celebrated in the U.S. on the first Friday of June each year. This year marks 82 years of this national day established by The Salvation Army as a tribute to honor The Salvation Army “Lassies” of World War I, who served doughnuts to soldiers.
Many doughnut companies now offer a free doughnut on National Doughnut Day, with or without a purchase. Examples of national companies that provide this service include Krispy Kreme, Duck Donuts and Dunkin Donuts. Many local companies also promote donuts on this special day. For The Salvation Army Indiana Division, this national day is also used as an important week to say thanks, cultivate and steward key targeted entities.
A very significant number of doughnuts were donated by Titus Bakery in Central Indiana. These doughnuts were used by Salvation Army officers, staff, board members, donors and volunteers to provide treats for frontline heroes that have dealt with serving COVID-19 pandemic patients and their families at great personal risk for several months. These include area hospital doctors, nurses, staff and volunteers, among others. Special visits were made the week leading up to National Doughnut Day. These visits were made just to say “thank you.” Many of these caregivers are extremely tired and a doughnut plus a coffee “pick-up” made their day!
In addition to this initiative, development staff members spent the week making visits to selected corporations, organizations, foundations, associations and individuals using masks and social distancing techniques to say “thank you,” plus educate them on current activities of The Salvation Army. This process is a combined stewardship and cultivation program. Building relationships and learning about each other’s mission is important and priceless.
The Salvation Army strives to create, develop and enhance an array of partnerships in the communities they serve. Doughnuts can be used as a wonderful tool to break down bridges and establish conversation, however brief. Many doughnut delivery engagements provide the forum for the next step of an actual meeting, which will be held later.
Salvation Army representatives at each visit provided doughnuts in specially marked boxes, annual reports and other materials. If feasible, a brief photo was taken of both parties and promoted on social media to share this partnership with the public.
In addition to personal visits, The Salvation Army Indiana Division worked in conjunction with FM radio station WIBC to promote an online competition between bakeries on Doughnut Day. In addition to the WIBC contest, The Salvation Army is hosting a Virtual Doughnut Decorating Contest on Facebook. In a normal year, a celebration is held in Downtown Indianapolis that includes intense doughnut competitions between individuals and companies that bake doughnuts.
Nonprofit organizations need to take advantage of opportunities to personally engage with prospects for a variety of reasons. The Salvation Army uses National Doughnut Day to be visible, tell their story and show their case for support. I suggest that any organization do the same, so internal representatives can go externally and shine. This process will improve knowledge and credibility. It will also engage organizational representatives in a fun and novel way. There are more than 1,500 national days. Pick a national day that relates to your organization, and go for it. What do you have to lose? There is so much to gain!
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