By Michael Kline
Hopefully by now, you’ve heard all about the kindness aspects of the Be Kind Fest coming up in just nine days. Now, I would like to share the economics and goals of the festival.
First, we have to understand that festivals in general are good for the local economy, but community celebrations are not about the economy. They are about the residents and families, the sharing, the fellowship, the celebration of community and important occasions like holidays, harvests and patriotism. Festivals and community celebrations improve quality of life in many aspects. Even a family with little or no money can occasionally find time to enjoy the humblest of events, with free parades, fireworks, concerts and fairs. I remember as a very young child, one of very few family outings we could afford, was going to the annual Fourth of July parade in tiny-town Ohio, where my Dad’s tow truck was always prominently featured. Following right behind the fire trucks, as if we could get more excited after covering our ears from the sirens and having candy thrown at us, we would see Dad commanding his impressive (impressive to me anyway) wrecker, as we called it. He’d honk the horn and we waved excitedly, and rightly so, for the big deal it was. Indeed, community celebrations make us and our community whole, and are well-worth supporting on their own merit without any need to prove economic benefit.
This all started in 2011 as Kindness Weekend as a much smaller affair, but with impressive impact. The goal was to put traffic in the village to support local businesses, while delivering the kindness message, and to add to the image of the community as a supremely desirable place to visit. At the end of the event, we decided that to grow to its full potential and to be sustainable, it would require more volunteers, professional staff and a broader sense of purpose.
A year later, while working on marketing projects and contemplating the need for fundraising for Visiting Nurse, Home Care & Hospice, it took about two seconds to see the obvious fit. It took about two more seconds to recognize that partnering with Evergreen Institute for Wellness, another non-profit with similar values and mission made even more sense. Several goals and guiding principles were soon laid out for the Be Kind Fest.
1. Deliver the kindness message, involve as many schools and as much of the community as possible, and cause lasting ripple effects of kindness.
2. Raise money ($20,000 is our first year goal) to share between the two non-profits.
3. Create marketing value out of the event for both agencies, expanding their marketing budget.
4. Create another reason for visitors to come before Memorial Day, especially for Canadian markets for their Victoria Day Weekend. Local hotels are promoting kindness packages, and we’re getting publicity out of state and in
Canada. Turning 10 weekends of summer into 11 weekends of summer is a 10% increase for the season. Multiply that times all the shops, restaurants and hotels that employ and support so much of our community and you see the value of carefully choosing our dates and promotions. This was only accomplished with the support of the MWV Chamber of Commerce, N. Conway Village Association and Settler’s Green.
5. Provide a tremendous value. As a charitable cause, we sometimes just ask for money. Working entrepreneurially, we offer something more valuable than money in exchange for the funds we seek. This is an entrepreneurial event. Thanks to the Mount Washington Radio group, we have a major outdoor concert that
is totally free. Thanks to Cranmore Mountain, we have an adventure day in their park, totally free on Sunday the 19th, a week earlier than they normally open. Thanks to the MW Observatory and The Local Grocer, we have two additional free educational programs. Thanks to dedicated teachers and schools, we have hundreds
of children adding kindness to their curriculum and sharing their gifts of kindness through art, music and essays. Thanks to Settler’s Green, Old Navy and Kiwanis, we had Michael Chase motivate Kennett students about a better life involving kindness. Thanks to dozens of wellness practitioners, we will introduce wellness practices to a large number of people for free. The list goes on and on!
6. Find ways to bring out-of-state money into the community. We need to stop relying solely on the same small businesses to support all our events, as we keep passing around the same money and gift certificates to each other. So, we created a donation card system for tourism based shops to raise money starting February vacation week, to invite mostly visitors to contribute. With only a few stores participating in our first year, we raised over $5,000 by
collecting $1 at a time, while allowing donors to feel a little better for contributing. We are also working toward larger sponsors from out of state, to bring in support for next year’s event.
So, for personal and economic reasons, be kind. I hope you will participate in and support the Be Kind Fest as well, as it is many things on top of being a fundraiser for two important local non-profits, doing the work of angels. Be sure to thank and patronize the sponsors who give so much to our local community – that’s just good business.
Michael Kline is a local retailer, success coach and trainer. He may be reached through his website, www.klineseminars.com, or e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.