This past April, The New York Times reported Americans gave away a whopping $229 billion in charitable donations in 2008. In that same year, the March/April issue of The American reported that the number of dollars given in the U.S. far surpassed the volume donated by any other nation on the planet. While it may surprise you, we are a nation that volunteers time and gives money to charity. Perhaps it is how our government rewards giving through tax deductions or perhaps we just have more to give. No matter what the reason, Americans have built a wildly diverse, event-driven, multibillion dollar industry by volunteering their time and money to increase the public's awareness of important causes. For every event organized, there is a need for mementos and thank-you gifts for those who participated.
Mike Stoeck, director of sales and marketing at Stouse, New Century, Kan., explained how diverse this market is. "Our distributors work with many groups and organizations," he said. "Some are small local organizations that support firefighters and police departments. Others are associated with schools, hospitals or political groups. The largest are national and international groups dealing with major diseases and health concerns."
With a niche this diverse, it is safe to assume the promotional products purchased will be similarly diverse. When it comes to giveaways, the sky is the limit, but food is always popular. Lauren Fox, sales and marketing manager for Fresh Beginnings, Valdosta, Ga., noted what attracts event-planners/buyers to a particular food promotion. "As a food manufacturer, we are able to customize both the color of the product and the tin lid," she said. "A current trend is to support a promotion or event with a customized four-color process tin. The gourmet food gift will disappear quickly but the tin lasts a long time." Gourmet food gifts are especially popular in health-related sectors, particularly those with long hours and double shifts. "The pink chocolate pretzels and pink sugar cookies are the most popular, not only in October [for Breast Cancer Awareness] but year-round for nursing staffs, hospitals [and] radiology groups," Fox explained.