Posts tagged ‘Center for Advancement in Cancer Education’

March 8, 2013

Do Not Let Them Eat Cake!

April 15 is an important date on the calendar. In the United States, it’s the deadline for people to file their federal tax return. It’s also when one charity will hold its eighth annual “Let Them Eat Cake” fundraising event.

The charity promotes the event as “Philadelphia’s Wedding Cake Design competition for professionals, students and those who love to bake to create.” Originally conceived by the charity to attract brides-to-be, the occasion now attracts over 1,000 foodies who pay a minimum of $40 each to taste the creations.

This sounds like a great idea for a fundraising event, right?


Cake by yenna via FlickrIn this case, the idea of “Let Them Eat Cake” has a major problem: In runs counter to the host organization’s own mission!

The event benefits City of Hope, a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center that conducts independent biomedical research, treatment and education in the fight to conquer cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening diseases.

As is well-known, consuming sugar can be a life-threatening issue for those suffering from diabetes. Over consumption of sugar can help lead to Type II-Diabetes. Compelling research demonstrates that over consumption of sugar contributes to the growth of cancer. This is why organizations like the Center for Advancement in Cancer Education advocate a low-sugar, low-fat diet.

My wife is an Ovarian Cancer survivor. So, it stunned me when I saw an anti-cancer charity promoting the eating of processed sugar and fat. Indeed, City of Hope has placed the consumption of fat and sugar at the very heart of its upcoming fundraising event without any disclaimers or caveats.

I had to understand the thought process behind the event. I had to know if I was missing something. Therefore, I called and spoke with Christopher Fanelli, Event Coordinator at the Philadelphia Development Office of City of Hope and the event’s organizer.

I asked Fanelli to explain how his anti-cancer, anti-diabetes charity reconciled its event theme with its organizational mission. He indicated that there was no issue to reconcile. He stated, “Everything in moderation.” He said that the event successfully raises money and builds awareness for City of Hope “in a fun way.”

When pressed on the idea that the event stands in opposition to the organization’s mission, Fanelli said, “I don’t believe it does it at all. It points people to what our mission is.”

Ok, the event “points people” to the organization’s mission. I probed that point.

“Will the event feature any healthier dessert choices?,” I asked.

“No,” responded Fanelli.

“Will any healthy-eating leaflets or information be available at the event?”


“Will any information be available at the event that explains the dangers associated with eating too much sugar or fat?”


Fanelli then went on to explain once again how this fun event raises money and awareness for City of Hope.

I then asked, “So, are you really suggesting that the ends justify the means?”

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March 16, 2012

4 Valuable Lessons Nonprofits Can Learn from For-profits

I believe that the nonprofit and for-profit sectors can learn a great deal from one another. Over the past several months, I’ve had some experiences that have confirmed this belief. I’d like to share two negative and two positive encounters I’ve had with the for-profit sector and reveal the lessons I learned that can help any nonprofit organization.

Under promise, and over deliver.

I ordered a roast-beef sandwich to go from Au Bon Pain. While I’m not a frequent Au Bon Pain customer, I’ve been one for many, many years. I was looking forward to my sandwich. When I got home, I unwrapped my lunch, and took a big bite. Something wasn’t right. I spit out the bite. There was a piece of paper. I opened my sandwich and found a sheet of deli paper!

Ok, if you make thousands of sandwiches, you’re bound to a make a mistake sooner or later. However, rather than just let the incident slide completely, I thought Au Bon Pain should know about the situation. I thought they might have a new sandwich guy who might benefit from some additional training. So, I called the “800” number on my receipt.

I was not looking for anything. I just wanted to inform the store about the incident so management could be aware and take any action they deemed appropriate.

The customer service representative was very nice. She took a detailed report and said she would pass it along to the store manager. Then, she added that she would have the store manager call me personally. I wasn’t expecting that, but I thought it was a nice move.

Unfortunately, days went by without any call from the Au Bon Pain manager. So, I began to get annoyed. I thought, maybe the customer service rep didn’t pass the report along.

I called the “800” number once again. A new customer service rep took down the information again and also apologized that I had yet to receive a call from the store manager. The rep reassured me that the call would come by the end of the week.

Well, months have gone by, and I still have not heard back from Au Bon Pain.

What started out as a fairly minor problem has turned into a bad customer service situation. Au Bon Pain twice promised me that the store manager would call. Yet, I received no call. This could mean any number of things. For example, it could mean that neither report was passed on to the manager. It could mean that the manager received the reports but simply did not care.

In any case, Au Bon Pain broke its promises to me. As a result, I will no longer do business with them. I have plenty of other food service choices. I don’t need them.

If the original customer service rep had simply told me she would pass along my complaint to the store manager without promising a follow-up call, I would have been fine. I would have felt my voice was heard and that the company was taking appropriate action. Instead, I was promised something that was not delivered. Twice!

All for-profit and nonprofit organizations should under promise and over deliver. If the customer service rep did not promise me a call from the store manager, imagine how pleasantly surprised I would have been if I nevertheless received a call from the manager. Au Bon Pain could have retained me as a loyal customer.

The corollary to “under promise and over deliver” is “do not make promises you can’t keep.” If you’re going to promise something, make sure you have a system in place to ensure the promise is fulfilled.

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