What does a business do that inspires brand loyalty in you? Is it good service? Exceptional value? Great product? For me, those things matter greatly but they don’t usually inspire my undying devotion. What really binds me to a business brand is what they give back in their community.
A couple of years ago, my family visited Beaches Negril and had the opportunity to visit a Jamaican school through the Sandals Foundation. Hard to believe that it was the highlight of my week, tucked in among all the great food, great service and beautiful surroundings, but it was. It moved me to meet these kids and to meet the people in the community. It was an experience I’m forever grateful to Sandals for introducing me too. In fact, I still have a relationship with Marcia Allen, the Principal of the school we visited and I get supplies to her whenever I can (most recently on a press trip in October).
The Sandals Foundation focuses on three key areas: community, environment and education. It’s easy to read those three words and shrug your shoulders. You need to look beyond the words though and into the actions. It’s really quite astounding.
In March of 2012, they celebrated their third anniversary. In that time they raised over $1.5 million and gave 100% of that to it’s Caribbean communities. Here are just a few of the amazing things they’ve done in that time.
- Invested in marine sanctuaries and education of fishermen in Jamaica to help preserve and protect reefs.
- Facilitated oral hygiene education, dental clinics and eye clinics for over 50, 000 people
- New construction and renovation of schools in the Caribbean
- Annual Christmas toy drive provides toys for up to 10,000 children each year
- Collected over 65,000 books which have been distributed to schools
- Started a voluntourism program called Reading Road Trip where tourists can visit schools and help promote literacy
- Focus on teacher training and parent workshops in 2012
- Eleven major projects will be the focus of 2012, including refurbishing infirmaries in Jamaica and expanding a primary school in Antigua.
Two years ago when I first heard of the Sandals Foundation, I really liked it, but when I had an opportunity to speak with a a representative from Sandals in October, I fell in love with it. Listening to her speak with such genuine pride about all about the good things Sandals has done and is doing in their communities made my heart swell. When employees speak so enthusiastically about their company you know they are doing it right.
Cue my undying devotion. And of course the next time I visit Beaches or Sandals, I’ll be packing a little lighter as usual, so I can bring more school supplies and books. I hope you will too!