Gaining ground on a cure

October 22, 2014 -  By
The Southwest Landscape Management team last October. Photo: Southwest Landscape Management

The Southwest Landscape Management team last October. Photo: Southwest Landscape Management

Southwest Landscape Management was getting at more than a fashion statement when its employees donned pink tees last October—T-shirts that were, in fact, Occupational Safety & Health Administration-approved.

The landscape maintenance company, located in Columbia Station, Ohio, was giving a nod toward Breast Cancer Awareness Month, spreading the word about the disease all the while fundraising for research via a social media campaign.

It encouraged passersby to post photos of the crews wearing pink onto the company Facebook page. For every photo posted, Southwest Landscape Management vowed to donate $5 to the American Cancer Society, requesting it go toward breast cancer research. The firm ended up donating $30-$40, in addition to shelling out around $450 for the apparel itself, printing two shirts per field employee and providing polo shirts to its office staff.

Though the fundraising facet of the inaugural initiative was weaker than anticipated, Greg Taylor says the primary goal was met.

“We did our job of spreading awareness,” says the vice president of operations. “It certainly could have been better, but it had a positive impact on the employees and an impact on some clients.”

That personal aspect, whether internally or externally, motivates many landscape companies to campaign against cancer.

For Taylor, the inspiration “just came as a random thought.” He says, “It also gives us brand awareness if we help the community.”

Still, he’s tweaking a few things this year to meet a $500 fundraising goal. Southwest Landscape Management is marketing the campaign
earlier on, promoting it harder on social media and including notes on invoices.

Similar strategic marketing has been integral to Alan Weaver’s participation in the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a fundraising organization for childhood cancer research whereby participants shave their heads at an annual event.

Weaver, owner of A. Weaver Lawn Care in West Warwick, R.I., has taken part in the campaign for three years—once with his firefighting department and twice through his landscape maintenance and snow removal company. For basically being a one-man operation, with two part-time employees, he says he’s had nothing short of “overwhelming success” with fundraising for St. Baldrick’s.

Weaver raised $7,000 last year, promoting the cause via clients’ snow plowing bills and on Facebook and Twitter—where he says 90 percent of the donations come from.

This year, he’s set the bar a little higher, with a goal of raising $10,000. But to do that, he began fundraising earlier—toward the end of September to get a leg-up for the head-shaving event held in March.

“Once you get going you want to keep going; it’s so contagious,” he says. “It’s such a fun time.”

Though he has no close connections to childhood cancer, Weaver says participating in St. Baldrick’s has widened his view of the disease.

“I want to make sure if something happened to my son or daughter there’s a foundation to find a cure,” he says. “I couldn’t imagine my son or my daughter going through the abuse these kids are going through. It tears my heart. That’s why I do it every year.”

Moghan Lyon, co-owner of Lyon Landscape Architects, has a personal reason for backing cancer research, as a close friend once was diagnosed. A landscape architect in Kirkland, Wash., Lyon participates in Movember to draw attention to cancer fundraising efforts.

Movember, a nonprofit fundraising foundation for prostate and testicular cancer research, raises awareness by its participants growing mustaches during November.

Lyon has raised around $5,000 over his past few years participating, promoting the cause on social media and posting about it on the company website.

His giving-back mindset extends beyond a mustache, though. It’s ingrained in the company culture and its commitment to community giving, he says. Other examples include offering services pro bono and making donations to local nonprofits through 100 Men Who Care, an organization founded by Lyon’s father and business partner Marty Lyon (see Web Extra).

“Movember is part of a larger umbrella we’re looking at in terms of social consciousness,” Moghan Lyon says. “Our goal is to be able to give back to the community.”

Showing our support

For more on how LM and parent company North Coast Media are supporting the American Cancer Society, see the note from Publisher Bill Roddy on the inside front cover of this issue.

About the Author:

Former Associate Editor Sarah Pfledderer is a West Coast-based contributing editor for Landscape Management.

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