“This past October, someone came into one of our locations and took our Toys for Tots box and filled it to the top,” says Rich Tanchyk, assistant vice president of H&V Collision Centers. “If you’ve ever seen one of the boxes, you know how big they are! It was pretty incredible.”
Since 2010, Tanchyk has played a major role in organizing the charitable contributions that H&V Collision, the seven-location MSO based out of New York, has participated in. Tanchyk spent nearly an hour on the phone with FenderBender passionately describing the positive impact that each and every one of these events have had on him and the entire staff. To list a few, the company has donated 16 cars to veterans, volunteered and brought the Easter Bunny to the Boys & Girls Club, fixed up and donated a van for a local veteran home, and participates in Toys for Tots all year long.
Tanchyk makes sure to get the point across that the world of giving is not only about donations: it’s about time and effort. For many shop owners, taking time to find an organization and get involved may seem overwhelming, but it’s easier than it might seem.
Choose a Level of Involvement
Depending on what organization you choose to get involved with, the time commitment varies greatly. For shop owners looking to get involved for the first time, Tanchyk suggests an organization like Toys for Toys that goes year round and does not require a huge time commitment. All businesses need to do is go online and apply to be a drop-off site. Once approved, a box is placed in the shop and the only maintenance required is dropping the box off once it’s full.
Choose an Organization
When Tanchyk started in 2010, he knew he wanted to give back, but he had no idea where to start. He started researching local organizations in the area and reaching out to ones that appealed to him. Through research and word of mouth, he found the Catholic Charities of Albany. Tanchyk can’t stress enough that he didn’t pick just any organization. There was one piece of criteria that he had: The organization needed to be focused on helping people.
Tanchyk said setting a benchmark of what he was looking for has helped him narrow down the list of organizations that he’s interested in working with. He suggests other shop owners make a list of the qualities that they are looking for in the organization that they select.
One of the first vehicles that H&V Collision donated went to a single mother who had been a victim of domestic violence. When Tanchyk went into the home, he realized that he needed to prove himself to the organization.
“It can seem strange for some people to have a stranger come in and offer to give you something,” Tanchyk says when describing this awakening experience. “It’s important to come off as genuine.”
By meeting with the recipient, listening, and sharing why H&V was interested in doing this, Tanchyk was able to earn trust. The recipient of that vehicle is now in the last stages of becoming a resident nurse.
Tanchyk’s advice is to show the organization that you are doing it for them, not to get something out of it.
Select the Recipient
If you’re working with an organization like Recycled Rides or the Make-A-Wish-Foundation, a recipient will have to be selected.
“We don’t just go into an organization and say, ‘Give us a vet,’” Tanchyk explains. “We get up close and personal.”
Meet the recipients. That way, it’s more personal when the actual giveaway takes place, Tanchyk says.
In order to get financial support for these events, it’s often necessary to get sponsors or create partnerships. Tanchyk says it’s much easier than it sounds.
“Think about it,” he says. “You’re already in partnerships with multiple people—vendors and suppliers. If you’re a good customer, ask if they’re willing to help.”
In order for the goodwill to spread, it’s important that the entire staff of a shop is involved in one way or another. Tanchyk says that even though it’s an added time commitment, the staff at H&V Collision is always willing to help because the company has always been sincere about what it’s doing and has communicated the broader goal to its staff. Tanchyk adds that a passionate leader goes a long way.
Spread the Word
In order to raise money or donations, other people in the community need to know what’s going on. Whenever H&V Collision is involved in something, whether it’s a vehicle giveaway or Toys for Tots, Tanchyk reaches out. It’s important to get certain people there. Tanchyk advises inviting public organizations, the media, and reaching out to officials—like the mayor.
H&V also utilizes Facebook to get the word out. For instance, when the Marines dropped off the Toys for Tots donation box, H&V snapped a photo of Tanchyk and one of the Marines and shared it on Facebook, letting its followers know where they could drop off toys.