Ross Halleck Member Engagement

Giving is Good Business

A t Halleck Vineyard, our raison d’ ê tre is “Building Community ThroughWine.”What does this mean? Giving is part of our business model. Responsible businesses offer value in multiple ways. Supporting nonprofit efforts is critical to our communities. Wine builds community socially, but an equal passion is leveraging wine to assist nonprofits in building their donor bases. We’re serious about having fun, as expected in a California Sonoma Coast Winery. “West County” is noted for its off-beat culture, politics, and living. Cash crops include grapes, organic produce for farm-to-table restaurants, and medical marijuana. But community represents a larger view that finds expression in philanthropy. We are a family-owned boutique winery, producing red and white wines. Our resources are modest, but we’ve raised over $250,000 in the past few years for charitable causes, propelling our business growth and helping many people around the globe. Our wines are offered at fine restaurants, but we primarily sell directly to members of our Wine Club.This is our community. Benefits of membership in our Wine Club include curated adventures across the world: to Kenya, Italy, Honduras, Cuba, Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park, New York City, and the Sun Valley Wine Auction. A critical benefit we offer is supporting our members’ philanthropies. We cannot afford to write big checks, but we have leveraged our status and the popularity of our wines to attract substantial contributions and create

were all offered by our Wine Club members and, combined, raised over $80,000, and added ten new Wine Club members. My blog post about the experience further engaged those who participated. This simple gesture reinforces our relationships and the impact of their giving. During my trip, I was co-host on a 2000-acre plantation on the James River in Charles City for a dozen people with local chef, Annie Chalkley. The other co-hosts, wine club members, Annie and I provided the wait service. Due to the structure of the global charity, the $8000 raised provided $32,000 in benefits. Further, the winning bidder so enjoyed the experience with friends and family that they offered a “Buy It Now” bid of $10,000 for the following year, increasing the benefit of my visit to $72,000, and they joined our Wine Club. Although giving is a strategic component of our marketing plan, the spirit behind the strategy is authentic, sincere, and rewards us in ways that cannot be calculated. I encourage business leaders in local nonprofits to reach out from their traditional models to look at alternate ways to engage and contribute. For Halleck Vineyard, it’s more than “Win-Win.” It’s “Win-Wine.” Ross Halleck is founder and principal of the award- winning Halleck Vineyard and Halleck, Inc., one of the preeminent branding and marketing agencies in Silicon Valley. Ross’ strategic thinking, creative excellence and unique marketing intelligence earned him BtoB Magazine’s Top 100 Award for 2001, and he has remained a thought leader in brand strategy and execution, now taking the stage in building luxury brands.

memorable experiences. This, in turn, has propelled our brand and expanded our sphere of influence. We orchestrate experiences that money can’t buy in charitable auctions supported by our Club members, often in partnership with celebrity chefs or fine dining establishments. Our creative events attract attention and large bids.They often include private tastings at our vineyard for small groups. Across the US, those who bid on our lots also visit Wine Country in northern California regularly. These are always fun parties. Memorable offerings have included a vintner lunch on a remote beach on beautiful Tomales Bay, accessible only by kayak. Clothed tables and staff were waiting for our meal: our wines and food prepared by Nick’s Cove restaurant. The trip was outfitted by a contributing kayak company, oysters were provided by a local oyster farm, and dessert was at the restaurant after the two-hour kayaking trek. This was followed by local artisan cheeses served at my house on the vineyard, a twenty-minute picturesque drive away. This event raised $18,000 for lunch for six. Recently, I spent 10 days hosting wine events offered for charities in Atlanta, Georgia; Asheville, North Carolina; and Charles City and Richmond, Virginia. These

36 I Nonprofit Professional Performance Magazine

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