The Cable Company's 16th Summer Against Hunger

The Cable Company's 16th annual Summer Against Hunger is anything but a feel-good gimmick. Thanks to ingenious leveraging by Robert Stein, company founder, every dollar spent on purchases from The Cable Company in the month of August results in almost $2 donated to a specific project of C.A.R.E., a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. Given that C.A.R.E. is one of the more efficient charities around—over 90% of donations go directly to programs and recipients, rather than to administration—this means that for every $100 purchase you make during the month of August, a donation of over $180 will go directly to people and communities in need.

Stein began his annual Summer Against Hunger campaign in his company's sixth year. "There were some tough times in our early days," he confides. "Whenever things seemed at their worst, and I felt I'd never make money in high-end audio, I would read about floods in Bangladesh and realize that things could be far worse. As bad as things seemed to me on a personal level, I realized I'd feel better if I made a donation to change things around on a larger level."

Once Stein began giving, and feeling all the better for it, he began to wonder if a company-wide campaign would benefit The Cable Company's overall morale. He soon decided to build in some charitable work annually, especially in the summer when business is slower.

"I sensed we'd feel better—our staff would feel better—and we'd be doing some good. It was about adding an additional level of fulfillment to what we were doing commercially."

In the first year, The Cable Company donated 5% of their sales in the month of August. Then, by convincing some of their vendors to match their donations, the 5% became 10%. By continually seeking more matching funds, the amount contributed grew exponentially, first to 100% or more of what people spent with the company, then even higher.

"In the last three years," says Stein, "we've been able to donate over $2 in care for every $1 spent."

In 2010, The Cable Company funded a specific program in Liberia. With an agrarian economy frighteningly over-dependent upon a single crop, rice, Liberia needs to import 80% of its vegetables. To increase production, farmers have resorted to slash and burn deforestation. C.A.R.E. presented an alternative by first educating farmers, then installing small-scale irrigation systems in existing fields that increased production and diversified crops. When The Cable Company donated $20,000 to the project, they were able to get the European Union to match those funds three times over.

The Cable Company has yet to choose which program they'll fund this year. Once they raise the funds, they'll ask C.A.R.E. what programs to consider. After receiving information on programs that fit the basic nutrition or agriculture or education models they favor, and that have matching funds available, the company's staff votes which to support.

"I feel like where we've fallen down is that we probably haven't telegraphed what we're doing very well," says Stein. "It's a little complicated, because in order to include all of C.A.R.E.'s small print in our ads, I think that sometimes the message is lost that this is a really good time to buy because we actually deliver on our promise.

"As far as I know, the way we use goodwill from customers and use matching funds to deliver far more than what we raise is unique. We've got a whole group of companies cooperating to do something good. I'll feel like we finally got the message across when one of our customers copies our model and starts doing what we're doing in whatever industry they're working in."

Miraculously, just like Heinz ketchup, Stein has signed on 57 varieties of vendors to participate in the program. For a full list of participants, see the ad in the September issue of Stereophile (p.80). Products range beyond a huge assortment of cables to include racks, room tuning devices, power products, fuses, preamps, phono cartridges, CD treatments, and a host of tweaks that, like purchases in August, really do make a difference.

robertbadcock's picture

Ahh, to watch you leaning frontward; as if storming through the halls of a hotel full of rooms, so, ahh; dominating in an (sorry) unpleasant manner...

Victor; can you put a link to the cable company in your report?


I mean, be BOLD about it.  As if; as seen, how folks literally step to the side a bit at your storming paced walk.  Link.  Something is missing.  A link somewhere is missing with folks that are of stature; yet still force the physical.  Please victor; fill the link for us.

K victor?  Can you do it?

- Regards.

JasonVSerinus's picture

Since posting this article, I have learned that the availability of contribution matching donors cannot be determined until this year's Summer Against Hunger campaign is complete, and The Cable Company's staff chooses which C.A.R.E. cause to support. Once the choice is made, solicition of additonal matching funds can begin.

With the amount of matching funds unknown at this time, all The Cable Company can guarantee is a 1:1 contribution for sales of products sponsored by their vendors, and 50 cents on the dollar for other sales including used products. Their hope, of course, is that they will be able to find sufficient additional funds matches to raise ultimate contributions up to 2:1 and more, as was the case in 2008-2010. Regardless, a contribution of 1:1 for sales of products sponsored by The Cable Company's vendors is a major contribution.

John Atkinson's picture

"Victor; can you put a link to the cable company in your report?"

Done - JA