Professional Jeweler Archive: Charitable Giving

June 2000


Charitable Giving

Sterling Jewelers program touches hearts, opens wallets

It’s a standard formula in public relations: To make a good impression on customers and employees, give something to charity. Preferably a local charity that benefits children.

To supercharge the formula, a local charity that saves children’s lives pushes all the right buttons, says Terry Burman, chairman/CEO of Sterling Jewelers Inc., Akron, OH. This past Christmas, the Sterling chain raised $350,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, TN. The company has committed to raising $1.5 million over five years for the hospital’s Solid Tumor Clinic.

Sterling raised money primarily through November-December sales of a stuffed plush bear named “Cubby.” The company bought 90,000 of the toys for about $7 each and sold them for $10 to customers who had made a $100 purchase. The $3 difference constituted Sterling’s contribution. Employees also raised money through payroll deductions. “We didn’t keep any of the profits,” says Burman, “and I think that’s one of reasons our employees got behind this.”

Burman says the program created good feelings among Sterling’s customers, but he doesn’t think it drove sales. “I don’t believe people would buy $100 worth of jewelry just so they can buy a $10 bear,” he says. Nor did the company want the effort to seem commercial, so the bear has no markings linking it with Sterling.

Note for jewelers: All members of Jewelers of America have the chance to raise money for children’s causes through a new canister program supporting the work of the Jewelers’ Charity Fund. Contact JA, New York City, (212) 768-8777.

– by Mark E. Dixon


Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications