Generosity = Success? The Energy Drink Ad That Raised $279,061.60 For Military Families Suffering From Tragedy

(Note: This article largely consists of an excerpt from my book “Generous Wealth: How To Make More Money By Giving It Away And By Helping Others”. 20% of my royalties from this book go to provide support for paralyzed US military veterans. My goal is to raise $100,000 by the end of 2020. Click here to purchase a copy and help this important mission of relief.)

John Stein married his high school sweetheart Barbara Nelson.

They both graduated high school in the early 80s. According to Kelly Friday (a childhood friend of John’s), John already wanted to be a helicopter pilot while he was still in high school. As Kelly tells it, “Any goal he set out to achieve, he mastered it. He was very intelligent. Anything he touched he mastered.”

John went on to achieve his goal. Lieutenant Colonel John Stein was a helicopter pilot in the 41st rescue squadron at Moody Airforce Base, which was a part of the 347th Operations Group. They specialized in rescuing downed pilots behind enemy lines.

Unfortunately, John’s heroism left his wife a widow and his children fatherless in 2003. Most of us probably can’t even imagine what it must feel like to go through something like that. Suddenly, their husband, father, friend, companion and protector was gone. But, even though they grieved, they weren’t abandoned.

According to John’s widow Barbara:

“My husband, Lt. Col. John Stein, died in Afghanistan in 2003. At the time, we had two children in high school and one in middle school. Because of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, I did not have to worry about how to pay for college for my three children. All three of my children have attended college. One is an Air Force Flight Surgeon at Hurlburt Field, FL, one is an Army Ranger stationed in Italy, and my daughter is scheduled to graduate from University of Illinois Veterinary Medicine in May. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank [the Special Operations Warrior Foundation] for making this possible – not only in financial assistance but also the emotional support.”

The Special Operations Warrior (SOW) Foundation is a charity that cares for the families left behind when our troops are taken from us.

5-hour Energy

In the summer of 2014, the energy drink brand 5-hour Energy ran a campaign to help out. They decided to donate 5 cents for every sale of a special edition cherry-flavored 5-hour Energy to the SOW Foundation. They managed to raise $279,061.60.

In addition to raising hundreds of thousands of dollars, the campaign also helped raise awareness for the SOW Foundation, which experienced a 99% increase in website visitors. Independent donations increased by almost $250,000.

I want you to ask yourself a question:

Does all that make you more interested in buying their products?

I can’t speak for you, but it makes me a little more interested in buying their products… and I don’t even drink caffeine!

Hopefully, the desire to line your own pockets with cash is not your primary motivation for giving to those in need. Hopefully, you realize how much the Lord has blessed you in your life and you want to share those blessings with others.

But, whatever your reason for giving to those in need, it sometimes makes sense to get the word out so that you can get others on board and recruit more help.

Doing More Good: Get The Word Out

5-hour Energy was able to help contribute to over half a million dollars being raised for those in need because they decided to donate to a worthy cause AND because they let people know what they were doing.

The Bible teaches that when we give to those in need, we should do so in secret. I believe that to be important instruction, but I also think we should understand it in the proper context. On the one hand, we shouldn’t be too proud or boastful of our own accomplishments. But, on the other hand, it’s important to keep in mind that sometimes letting the right people know about your efforts to give back can help magnify your results and can recruit more help for those who are suffering. After all, scripture also teaches us to let our light shine like a city on a hill.

I think the proper way to look at this is that it’s not just about us.

We shouldn’t be letting people know about our efforts to help those in need so that we can look good or because we’re hoping to be honored with awards and accolades. But, depending on the situation, it may be in the best interest of everyone involved for us to get the word out and let people know about our efforts to build Generous Wealth by donating to people in need.

Don’t forget that in addition to the $279,061.60 donated by 5- hour Energy…

…the Special Operations Warrior Foundation received an extra increase of almost a quarter million dollars in donations…

… because 5-hour Energy helped them get the word out and raise awareness.

Obviously, all the publicity was probably very good for the 5-hour Energy brand. But, if they’re going to use their influence and resources to continue to do good, help those in need and add value to the world… then I think they deserve to do well. Personally, I’d consider it an honor to support a brand like that.

(Note: Depending on your situation, when donating a portion of your profits to a charity, it might be best to NOT specifically state the name of the nonprofit organization in your marketing and PR efforts. Instead, it might be better to simply state the type of cause that you’re supporting. So, for example, if you were to donate a portion of your profits to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, it might be better to just state that you’re donating part of your profits to support the spouses and children left behind by soldiers who are lost in combat.

Unfortunately, this won’t be as effective in raising awareness for the specific organization. But, as it turns out, stating the actual name of the nonprofit that you’re supporting can in certain circumstances cause problems with the IRS for you or for the charity. If you plan to use the charity’s name in any of your marketing or PR, make sure that you have the charity’s permission. I’d also recommend you talk to a lawyer and/or accountant who is knowledgeable in such matters.)

Win-Win Situation

Don’t forget, an important part of acquiring Generous Wealth is creating a win-win situation… a situation where you “win” yourself because you help other people “win”… and as you “win” more influence and gain more resources, you also gain the power to help more and more people “win” as you continue to work to help those in need and to add value to society.

I’m trying to do this myself by donating 20% of my royalties from this book to offer support and relief for US veterans that are paralyzed. As I mention in other parts of the book, my goal is to raise $100,000 by the end of 2020.

Again, I want to ask you a question:

Doesn’t knowing about my intentions to give back, make you just a little more likely to want to buy my book or even to hire me as a consultant or speaker?

I’m not saying this to pat myself on the back. I’m saying this to demonstrate that when someone gives back, our tendency is to want to support them.

(Note: This article largely consists of an excerpt from my book “Generous Wealth: How To Make More Money By Giving It Away And By Helping Others”. 20% of my royalties from this book go to provide support for paralyzed US military veterans. My goal is to raise $100,000 by the end of 2020. Click here to purchase a copy and help this important mission of relief.)

Career Advancement

You can try using this natural tendency to your advantage… whether you’re responsible for an entire company’s finances or just responsible for your own paycheck.

If a company gets the word out that they are donating part of their revenue or their profits to a noble cause, then there’s a good chance that potential customers will be more interested in buying that company’s products or services. Basically, the customers choose to donate through the company. The customer is in essence able to make a charitable donation, simply by purchasing a product that they already want or need.

This type of promotion can be a strong incentive to be much more selective about which brand we choose to give our business to.

But, what if you don’t own your own business or you’re not a high level leader in the company you work for and, as such, don’t have the necessary influence to implement this type of promotion?

I don’t know of any research to back this up, but I would imagine that letting potential employers know that you’re an active supporter or volunteer of a certain charity… or perhaps even that you donate a certain percentage of your paycheck to help those in need would be one more reason for a company to either hire or promote you.

What if you tried mentioning something like that on your resume, in a cover letter, on the back of your business card or on your LinkedIn profile?

I do, however, recommend caution with this strategy.

You’re probably not going to help yourself if people think you are bragging. So, you want to share this information in the most humble and professional manner possible. For example, if you plan to donate a portion of your salary, try to make it clear that you are sharing these intentions, so that potential employers will know that if they choose to hire you, then some of the money that they spend on your salary will be used to support a worthy cause.

In essence, you’re informing potential employers, that hiring you will be an opportunity for them to support important charitable efforts.

Like I said, I don’t have any research to back up my assumption that this would actually help someone get hired or promoted. But, as a business owner, I can tell you that seeing something like this on a cover letter or resume would probably impress me.

If a job candidate humbly informed me that they’re a supporter or volunteer for a cause or charity that I respect, then I would probably pay closer attention to that candidate. It likely wouldn’t be enough for me to choose a less qualified candidate. But, if I were on the fence between two or more candidates, then finding out that one of them uses their time and/or resources to support a worthy cause might be a decisive tiebreaker.

Know Your Customer

Another reason for caution with this strategy is that your potential employer may not share your values.

You may consider Donald Trump a national hero. But, not every employer will appreciate learning about your support for his reelection campaign. If your resume lands in front of another Trump supporter, you may have an instant job offer. On the other hand, you may burn a bridge with a great potential employer. Be careful about sharing your support of controversial (and especially political) causes.

This is also plenty true when you’re leading a company and hoping to impress potential customers with your support of a noble cause. In such cases, it makes sense to do research and make sure that the charity or cause you’re donating to is something that your customer will actually want to support.

For example, if your ideal customer is a diehard Republican, you’re probably not going to get very far by telling them that you’re trying to support Planned Parenthood.

But, you might be very successful letting someone like that know that you’re donating to some type of law enforcement or veterans charity. The bottom line is that, whatever your goals, you should always try to know who your customer is.

(Note: This article largely consists of an excerpt from my book “Generous Wealth: How To Make More Money By Giving It Away And By Helping Others”. 20% of my royalties from this book go to provide support for paralyzed US military veterans. My goal is to raise $100,000 by the end of 2020. Click here to purchase a copy and help this important mission of relief.)

Key Takeaways

1. A Great Way To Get More Money: Give It Away!

When people see that supporting your business (or your career) means they’re supporting a great cause, their willingness to buy from you (or hire you) will likely grow significantly. Even if they’re not terribly interested in what you’re selling, they might be interested enough in supporting what you’re doing that they still choose to make a purchase.

2. It Doesn’t Have To Be Military

What do your customers want to support? One of the most important things in marketing is knowing who your customers are and speaking to them in a way that matters to them.

If your customers are pacifists who think that our nation should completely disarm our military, then supporting the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, like 5-hour Energy did, might not resonate very well with them.

In that case, donating to a group that provides relief to war victims in the Middle East might be a cause that your customers would more eagerly rally behind.

PS. That said, you should still do what do you feel is right, whether or not other people will like it. But, it makes sense to try to understand what the consequences might be.

3. If You’re Turning A Profit, You Can Afford It.

Some businesses might donate a portion of their revenue, but I think it’s smarter to donate a portion of your profits.

First of all, you can donate a higher percentage. Saying, “I donate 10% of my profits” sounds more exciting than, “I donate 1% of my revenues”… even if it ends up being the same amount.

Furthermore, donating a percentage of profit instead of revenue gives you a larger cushion of protection. Even if your profit margin goes down, you can still donate the same percentage without taking a loss.

Note: An exception to this rule would be a fast growth startup that is not expecting to be profitable for quite some time. In this case, you may want to go with a different donation strategy.

4. Generating Press

People often view business, especially big business, as manipulative, selfish and deceitful.

A company giving back and supporting a worthy cause, might be something people are interested in hearing about.

Many journalists are in the business of sharing stories that people will listen to. A heartwarming story about how your company is working to give back may have a much better chance of being covered in the press than a story about how cool your brand-new product is.

If you’re hoping for increased press coverage, try reaching out to any charities or nonprofit organizations you’re supporting and working with them to generate publicity. Maybe they have contacts in the media that would be willing to work with you.

This might even work if you’re simply an employee donating part of your paycheck. If you can use your commitment to give back in a way that offers the press an interesting story to report on, then you might gain a bit of extra publicity and recognition in your field. This could potentially lead to new job offers, raises or promotions.

5. Beware The Taxman

Be very cautious about publicly stating any intentions you have to donate to a specific nonprofit organization. Doing so may cause trouble with the IRS, possibly for both you and the charity. At the very least, talk to a lawyer and/or accountant who understands tax law before proceeding. Also, don’t publicly state your intentions to donate to a specific charitable organization without the express permission of said charity. Like I said, doing so might actually cause problems for the people that you’re trying to help.

Instead of stating the specific organization that you’re supporting, a simple alternative is to describe the type of cause you’re supporting. So, for example, instead of stating that you plan to donate a portion of your profits to No Kid Hungry, you can say that you’re planning to donate to combat childhood hunger.

(Note: This article largely consists of an excerpt from my book “Generous Wealth: How To Make More Money By Giving It Away And By Helping Others”. 20% of my royalties from this book go to provide support for paralyzed US military veterans. My goal is to raise $100,000 by the end of 2020. Click here to purchase a copy and help this important mission of relief.)

About The Author

Seth Coyne

Seth Coyne prefers to be addressed as Jedi Master Seth. He is the founder of Rapid Company Growth. He’s also a surprisingly handsome business advisor. Feel free to connect with him via LinkedIn or Facebook Messenger.