In the Trenches: How to Be Charitable
Last week, I was awakened by a call to our urgent assistance line sometime around midnight or 1 a.m. I answered to find someone in desperate need of help but not the kind of help we could provide. It got me thinking about how our business could — and should — be involved in charity.
The man who called was stranded at the Greyhound bus station in Milwaukee. According to him, he had used his money to get to Milwaukee for a job that didn’t pan out. Now he was out of money and needed to get back home.
Of course, this isn’t the kind of assistance that Cranky Concierge provides. We help people get where they need to go, but we don’t provide financial assistance along the way. This guy had found our number on the web and thought we could help. He was angry when I said we couldn’t and accused us of “false advertising,” but really there was nothing we could do. It wasn’t false advertising.
I had volunteered with Travelers Aid International at the Los Angeles and Reagan National airports while I was in school, so I thought to send him there. Travelers Aid has a branch in Milwaukee, and I know they can help in situations like this. He would just have to wait until the morning.
After we got off the phone, I started thinking about what kind of charity our business could be involved in. It couldn’t entail situations like this: There’s no way for us to verify whether or not people are truly in need of help just by chatting over the phone. Organizations like Travelers Aid are far better equipped to do that in person.
But we should be involved in charity in some way. We could donate money to an existing charity and help passively, but that doesn’t seem very fun. We have good skills that can help others. I’m just not sure how to connect everything. What do you think?
Brett Snyder is President and Chief Airline Dork of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. Snyder previously worked for several airlines, including America West and United, before leaving to create a travel search site for PriceGrabber.com. Snyder did his undergrad at George Washington and earned his MBA from Stanford.