Do charitable organizations present a business opportunity?

Bowling and charitable work to raise awareness for autism and for those with disabilities. Surprising combination? Not at all!

Bowling centers offer a variety of opportunities for proprietors to integrate their own personal charitable passions with their businesses. You may not have considered it before, but charitable work presents an incredible opportunity to grow your business and build your community support while promoting your brand.

My own interest in combining charity with business development comes from a very personal circumstance. My son, Jimmy, is autistic. Jimmy, the youngest of our four children, he is now 23 years old, but still requires a great deal of care and assistance. Raising a son with autism has presented many challenges to our family but has also been an enormous blessing. I am sure you will find in future blogs that Jimmy is our family’s hero and we all learn so much from him.  He is my boy and I am very proud of him!!

It is not an exaggeration to say that Jimmy’s autism shaped nearly every facet of my family’s life for many years and still does today. As we learned to balance our businesses and autism, one of the more eye-opening aspects was the opportunity not simply to balance these parts of my life, but to blend work and Jimmy’s autism. And through that, I also realized how charitable events could effectively fill the lanes at my center.

Families with children who have disabilities are often looking for a way to have a fun and safe family night out, but often worry about logistics and creating an uncomfortable scene for others. Special family nights for these families can take all of the stress out of the evening for the family, they are hugely welcomed by these families and they also allow the family members to reconnect with one another.

Other ideas include inviting schools and group homes whose residents include adults with disabilities to your center to fill daytime lanes. This type of outreach is also great “filler” for those early morning Saturday youth programs, which are now nearly obsolete.

I created a “challenger” bowling league for those with disabilities 10 years ago that filled the house on Saturday mornings at 9:30am that still is running strong. These programs are all big “win” situations if your intentions are genuine.

Just note, you may feel awkward when you get started, but with good intentions, you will find out your product is welcomed, and that so many in the community will welcome this program. Your numbers will soar, and your center will quickly become a destination place for those families who work so hard to find a welcoming environment.

If you have not done so already, I would encourage you to think about your 2018 calendar for your center, and examine whether or not your center could host special events this year for families with disabilities.

Additionally, consider fundraisers for charitable causes as a vehicle for doing good work and bringing people into your center. Fundraisers serve three  purposes – filling your lanes, bringing new people into your center, and collecting funds for a great cause.

It’s to be expected, of course, that my special passion is integrating autism awareness and outreach to families with autism through my work. April is Autism Awareness Month, and centers across the country are hosting “Light It Up Blue” events in honor of autism awareness. As part of that month’s special events, I will be presenting an entire plan for centers all around the globe to celebrate Autism awareness month. Also, on April 28th, I’ll be hosting a fundraiser “Strike Out Autism” to integrate the theme of bowling even further with autism awareness.

What I have found is that my passion is shared by millions of people, and in an upcoming blog I will share what you could do to celebrate autism awareness month and how to host a fundraiser on April 28th at your center. You will not only feel great, but your center will be the talk of the town!

I have used this space in this blog post today to talking about autism awareness and my own experience incorporating charitable work focused on autism with my bowling businesses, but I hope you will think through the broader opportunities to create charitable opportunities that draw people into your center.

Charge a fair price – give a good product and feel good about getting involved and helping.

The best advice I can give as you look for opportunities to use your center for charitable work, especially related to those with disabilities is: Be sincere and genuine. It’s that simple.

This type of outreach to the community does not require a lot of work, but it does require some advance planning. You will likely want to put a package together to alert people about your project, and you may also want to reach out to mental health centers, schools, group homes and centers who work with our friends with disabilities

If your experience is anything like mine has been, you will be amazed by the many ways charitable events turn out to be good business.

Stay tuned for an upcoming blog on how you can celebrate Autism Awareness Month in your community!!

Yours for Better Bowling,