Are your donations causing supply chain disruptions in neighborhood stores?

Are your donations causing supply chain disruptions in neighborhood stores?

Donations can cause supply chain disruptions in neighborhood stores

This is a situation where good intentions can unintentionally cause problems in a local community. What are the unintended consequences of an act of goodwill?

As a local community pastor, I probably receive 2-3 emails or calls per day from nonprofits and agencies asking for supply donations from folks in the community. These requests encompass everything from food, water, PPE, hand sanitizer, diapers, formula, TOILET PAPER, etc. I know many of you receive the same type of requests.

We all want to help! We all NEED to help in some way. However, we need to think through how to help the RIGHT way.

Under normal conditions (non-COVID-19), local stores and supermarkets are very well stocked with essential items. When you or I go to the store, we can buy as much as we need in the full knowledge that what we take off the shelf will be replaced within hours.

You’ve probably noticed the phrase ‘Supply Chain’ mentioned more and more by the media and government officials. The supply chain starts where a product is sourced like a farm or manufacturer. Those goods make their way to distribution centers and then onto the shelves of neighborhood stores where you and I can purchase them.

The COVID-19 Crisis changed everything.

COVID-19 created a panic, which caused people to purchase more essential items and thus putting stress on the supply chain.

What does all this have to do with nonprofits and agencies asking me and you to donate essential items?

Well, unless you and I have a surplus of essential items in our homes to donate, we typically go to our local store to purchase those items. Then we donate them to the organization that is requesting them. While the intention is good and noble, there are unintended consequences.

This can cause supply disruptions in neighborhood stores.

When I go to my local neighborhood store to buy additional items to donate to an agency in need, I am taking those essential items off the shelf at a time when supply chains are stretched thin. Restocking those items may take days rather than hours depending on the item and location of the store.

There are those in our neighborhoods who depend on the availability of essential items in local stores. The elderly couple on fixed income may be able to go to the store once per week to purchase essential items. If I purchase items before they do with the intent of donating them to another area of need in my community, I’ve unintentionally created a problem – a disruption for that elderly couple. They must go without or ask for help.

Again, we’re all trying to help. But we need to be thoughtful of how we help and source supplies in this current COVID-19 crisis because supply chains are crucial on a micro-level.

How can we help the right way? I have a couple ideas.

1. If you want to donate essential items, give from your stockpile first instead of going to your local store. Even a few cans of food, a box of formula, etc can go a long way to helping a family in need.

2. If you do purchase from a local store, limit your purchase to a couple items to donate. Make sure to leave something on the shelves for others in your community.

3. Call your local store manager and ask them when they restock and time your visit. Again, limit your purchases.

4. Instead of donating essential items, ask the nonprofit or agency if you can donate money. Encourage them to source their needs at the distributor level instead of the neighborhood level. Big box stores and grocers will often help nonprofits source much needed items.

5. Help your community nonprofits connect with larger nonprofits and community resources that have access to distributors higher up the supply chain. Organizations like the United Way, Salvation Army and local food banks have greater supply chain access. Collaboration is everything.  Help organizations work together to solve problems and ensure supplies get to the front lines the right way while preserving supplies in neighborhoods.

I hope this is helpful in helping you think through how we can avoid causing disruptions in local supply chains. Your elderly and immune-compromised neighbors with benefit from thoughtful giving.


Read previous post: A Church Without Walls – Serving Others
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What I learned about materialism from car tires

What I learned about materialism from car tires

A few years ago, Kathryn and I owned a beautiful SUV. It was truly a work of precision German engineering. It was the top of the line of ‘top-of-the-line’ SUVs containing all the ‘bells and whistles’ one could possibly imagine in a fine motor car. It was stunning and impressive. The darn thing was expensive. The warranty expired and we learned that maintenance was darn expensive as well. The ‘special’ run-flat tires could not be rotated. They had to be replaced (usually two at a time). The tires alone cost $650 each and had to be replaced about every 10,000-12,000 miles. Do the math. That’s $2600 per year in tires! As a special bonus, we had the privilege of replacing a cracked wheel at the low-low cost of $900. In one year, we spent over $3500 on tires and wheels. Oh yeah, did I tell you that it was beautiful, stunning and impressive?  You can learn something from car tires.

Materialism requires maintenance
Here’s the lesson that you should take away from my foolishness. If you place any of your personal self-worth on the stuff you buy, get ready to spin your wheels and work your arse off to maintain it. I don’t care if you have millions or billions, if you place your ANY of your self-worth on the stuff you can accumulate in life, you will live in a cycle of maintenance.  Take if from me, I’m a recovering materialist!

Everything we buy ends up in a trash heap somewhere. That expensive SUV we owned will eventually end up a rusted hunk of junk in a junk yard. That expensive home will eventually be torn down. All the stuff that we buy to impress others and/or make us feel better will eventually decay in some hole in the ground.

The material isn’t the problem, ‘Materialism’ is
Owning nice stuff is not the problem. The problem is when we tie our value to the stuff we own. When we love stuff and our capacity to attain more stuff more than we love God and people, we have exchanged that which is priceless for something with a price tag. Stuff can become an idol. Eventually, we run the risk of allowing that idol to rule over us and we eventually end up in bondage. The stuff owns us.

I’ve seen too many people end up with a pile of really expensive junk and massive bank accounts only to spend their last days completely alone in the pit of regret. They don’t even have anyone to share the regret with except those who they hire to maintain their stuff while they die alone.

You don’t have to get caught up in the nasty cycle of Materialism! Ponder this…

  • Order you life: Life is about relationships. Who would you trade all your stuff to save their life?
  • Motivation of the heart: Have you ever asked yourself ‘why’ before you buy?
  • Value: Do you attach personal value on things you buy? A little status, perhaps? Be honest.
  • Envy: When someone else buys something you desire to own, does it make you angry or bitter?
  • People: Who are the people you spend the most time with? Are they people who work for you?
  • Generosity: One cure for materialism is to give stuff away. Give something you love away (rinse and repeat)
  • Breaking the grip of Materialism: Read this post..
  • Cultivate Relationships: Seek time with God, family and friends.  This means reaping and sowing.  Do you invest in these three relationships? Are you generous with your time, talent and treasure?

What is true wealth?
“Add up everything you have that money can’t buy and death can’t take away.” -Pastor A. Rogers

Explore these passages.
“For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” 1 Timothy 6:10

“Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”” Mark 12:17

“And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” Mark 10:21-22

Breaking the grip of materialism and status

Breaking the grip of materialism and status
When I was in college, I was preoccupied with stuff. In fact, I attended college to learn how to make money to get my hands on the best kind and most expensive stuff. I wanted the nicest cloths, cars, food, vacations and toys that money could buy. I wanted to make a lot of money, pursue pleasure and comfort. Note: There is nothing wrong with nice things, money or stuff. It all comes down to how I relate to stuff, the significance I place on it and where I derive my self-worth.
(more…)

Simple Living and Freedom, Baby!

NC-Fam
Are you an ‘all or nothing’ type? I am. My wife reminds me of this frequently. If I’m going to involve myself in a project, I’m 100% all in or I’m not going to participate. It’s the way I was created. I have found productive ways to leverage my addictive personality. Take triathlons for instance. I’m not content just dabbling in the sport, I must submerge myself in it totally.

As of late, I’m trying to learn to be content through simpler living in order to gain some margin in my life.

Five years ago, I looked around and we owned a bunch of ‘stuff’ and all that stuff cost money. Then I came to the realization that we did not own all this stuff, the stuff owned us. We were working to purchase and maintain expensive stuff. The amount of resources we were dumping into stuff was staggering. (more…)

Money doesn’t lie

judge-gavel

I’m a NERD. I love solving problems. My career is centered on solving money problems. What does your money tell me about you?

Show me the money!
Do you REALLY want solutions? The answer is usually ‘No’! What you really want is someone to remove the pain or salve your conscious. You don’t want a solution unless it is on your terms.

How do I know this? Well, I’m not a psychologist. However, I have folks come to me needing advice and solutions to financial problems. Here is what I ask;

  • What is the problem?
  • Do you want a solution?
  • Are you willing to be a little uncomfortable?
  • Show me the money! (Share your bank and credit card statements)

Money doesn’t lie
While you are telling me all about your problem and how badly you want help finding a solution, I’m looking at your financial statements. Why? How you spend and manage your money tells me more about you that you can. As is usually the case, you can tell me one story about you and your money tells me the truth. (more…)

Do You Have a ‘What If’ File?

Drill_instructor
Marines are known for being tough and practical. One does not become Lieutenant Colonel and pilot in the Marines without knowing a thing or two.

Last year I met such a Marine at a charity event. During our short conversation, he inquired about my work. I told him about my passion for impacting lives in various ways through my work as a Financial Advisor.  Little did I know that I was about to be equipped with a valuable tool.  When I have the opportunity to learn a practical life skill from someone with a great deal of experience, I jump at it. Then, I like to pass along the information.

A good teacher must be teachable. I emailed him and below is the content of his reply.
(My additions/edited portions of What If File Essentials are in bold italics)

The “What If” File by LtCol. Mitch Bell:

This isn’t just for the Marine or Soldier going over to the War, it’s for everyone, guy or gal. We all believe that we’ll live forever! I mean it. When you are young, you are bullet proof and as you get older, you just never expect that you will die. Well, I am speaking as a guy who lost his sister while in college, his college roommate fifteen months later, and about a dozen guys in plane crashes over my adult life. With this in mind, I came up with a “What if” file.

The “What if” file is a complete folder for my next of kin on what to do if I get whacked by a drunk driver in the morning on the way to work. This is to ensure that my wife and parents would not have to search through old papers, files, boxes in the closet etc to track down my investments, mortgages, car info, work info, passwords etc. Now mind you, the “what if” file is a VERY important document, and should be placed in your fire proof home safety deposit box or gun safe, or with your folks and/or your wife in a safe, secure place. It would be bad news falling into the wrong hands with all that info in one place.

Here is what I did when I married my beautiful wife. I wrote a letter to her, very personal and with the intent that it would my last words to her. I also told her what needed to be done and in what order.

What If’ File Essentials:

  • 
Copies of all bank statements
  • Copies of your investment statements (IRA, 401k, retirement accounts, etc)
  • Account numbers (these are required to cancel credit cards and find out what bills have to be paid)
  • 
Copies of all life insurance policies (beneficiary information)
  • All online passwords (Banks and Financial Institutions)
  • 
POC’s (point of contact) include correct phone numbers
  • 
POC within your state to retrieve death certificate (In order to claim insurance death benefit and notify Social Security)
  • POC (supervisor/partners) at work to notify so they don’t call due to your absence.
  • Passwords for email accounts & social media (Facebook), so that your family can send out an message via your address notifying all your contacts about your death or serious injury. Otherwise your family will have to provide your death certificate to AOL, Facebook, Gmail, Hotmail, etc to access your accounts.
  • An envelope with $1,000 in cash to cover immediate and unforeseen needs
  • Instructions for burial
  • 
Copy of your current (valid) Will (Trust Documents)
  • 
Copies of your Living Will/Advance Directive/and Power of Attorney (if needed)
  • List of items of value in your estate (you don’t want them sold for pennies on a dollar at an estate sale)
  • List 3 primary contacts (friends and/or family) who can notify others of the situation at the behest of your spouse.

This is just a start, a basic road map for you. There are many more things you can add to it. I’m death on Marines who don’t have this set up, and so is my Dad who has an extensive “what if” file. I’ve seen too many cases where a Marine has died, and he didn’t switch over his life insurance from his EX-wife who he hates, and she now has won the lotto with a tax-free check while his present wife gets nothing. That is pure laziness and I despise it.

Just remember that dying is the easy part of life; it’s the loved ones you leave behind that suffer. If you have your life tied together in a “What If” folder, when that unexpected time comes, it will make life so much easier for the ones left behind. If you care about your spouse/kids and folks, take the time today to start putting one of these together, and store it in your home fireproof safety deposit box(but watch out if you use a banks they will close those up tight till the probate of the will if you don’t clean it out fast).

I hope this post helps. Please copy it, and send it to your friends and family. I would be willing to bet you a beer that if polled, only about one out of ten will have anything remotely set up like a “What If” file.
-Semper Fi, Mitch

Do you have a ‘What if’ file? Would you add anything to this list?

Special Thanks to LtCol Mitch Bell for permission to share this material on my blog.