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Screen shot by CNN taken from the Frying Pan Light Tower

How to Give Professionally

By Kerry McCoy

Kerry McCoy, Owner and President of FlagandBanner.comDonation requests are a part of doing business in the 21st Century, but you can’t give to everyone. So how do you decide? If you’re in the business of selling flags, you frequently get asked to donate. There was a time I wanted to keep my donations a secret, so as not to promote more requests. I’ve changed my mind. Today I welcome the attention and don’t miss the opportunity to send out a press release. Good deeds don’t have to go unnoticed.

Reduce the guilt of saying no by creating a donation budget at the beginning of the year. Make sure to set aside contingency funds for the unexpected. When planning this budget, consider the following: 1) Are there organizations with whom you have a personal history? 2) How much money can you afford to allocate? 3) Can any of that money be recouped by community good will and free press?

A relevant instance transpired in September, a few weeks before Hurricane Florence. Husband, Grady, answered the phone to a man named Richard Neal. In 2010, Neal bought a decommissioned coast guard light station called the Frying Pan Tower. It is located 30 miles off the North Carolina coast in the Atlantic Ocean. Built in the 1960’s, before the internet and GPS, it served as a navigational tool for water crafts. Due to advances in technology, the Corp no longer used it and, thus, put it up for auction. Neal, the only bidder, was awarded the Tower and for a short time ran it as a bed and breakfast for the adventurous. Atop the Frying Pan sits a pole and flag, for the once needed purpose of wind direction.

Flagpole expert, Grady and eccentric Neal became fast phone friends. Neal gave Grady the web address of his live cam on the tower, showing the pole with its flag flying. It had over 1,000,000 views. Like much of America, Grady was intrigued and began the process of repairing and improving the Frying Pan’s flagpole display as a donation. Before the new parts had arrived, Florence blasted the North Carolina coastline and the Frying Pan Tower.

It wasn’t long before a CNN news reporter stumbled across the live feed of the flag flapping wildly and shared it with America. The juxtaposition of Uncle Sam’s flag coupled with Mother Nature’s fury make the video mesmerizing and created a twitter storm @fptower. In an interview with CNN, Richard Neal graciously said, “the flag was provided by the good people at FlagandBanner.com!”

As leader of your company and staff, you have a fiduciary responsibility to make money. As leader in the community, generosity can be a responsibility too. As the preceding story illustrates, sometimes donations can bring big returns. 

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