The pursuit of profit is the driving force behind virtually any marine business. Thankfully, more businesses in the trade are also seeing the benefits of giving back in their community and how that can help build connections, differentiate them from other businesses, and strengthen their community.
While there are many ways to give back, from volunteering to donations, one that fits boating well is the C.A.S.T (Catch A Special Thrill) for Kids Foundation. It’s an event that takes "differently-abled" children on boats for a day of fishing. C.A.S.T. events are held in many parts of the country, and where there isn’t one now, there could easily be one initiated by a dealer.
Choosing a way like this to give back can boost a dealership’s recognition in the community, garner excellent local media exposure, generate team building and boost employee morale. Truth is, even if a business gives back to the community with only a marketing motive, it’s better than the ones that don’t. So, why consider doing a C.A.S.T for Kids event?
First, the C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation is a national non-profit. It marked its 30th anniversary last year, and has enriched the lives of more than 131,500 special needs children age 6 through 18 at more than 1,200 events involving more than 80,600 volunteers. This summer alone, more than 80 such events are already scheduled in 27 states and the list keeps growing. Being identified with a C.A.S.T for Kids event has long-established merits.
Second, getting involved in an existing C.A.S.T for Kids event, or initiating an entirely new one where none currently exist, is a perfect fit for a marine dealer. After all, the event enriches the lives of children, supports their families, and gives back to the community through the sport of boating and fishing. The children and their caretakers come together with volunteers for a fun day of fishing on boats, something they may not otherwise ever experience.
Third, from a business viewpoint, it’s a great way for dealers to connect and be involved with their customers, many of whom would readily identify and participate with their boats. Organizing an event and inviting customers to participate with their boats can build a truly meaningful relationship that will likely pay off in the future with customer loyalty.
If the dealership has a waterfront location, it’s likely the perfect site for organizing an event. If not, teaming up with a local marina, holding the event at a nearby waterfront park/launching ramp, or working with a local boating club’s facility could make it happen.
Shanna Eaton has been organizing C.A.S.T for Kids events for three years. She and her husband were looking for a way to give back to their community. This will be their fourth year.
"I did a Google search and found C.A.S.T for Kids,” she explains. “It seemed perfect. It combines our two loves — my husband's love for fishing and my love for working with kids. We max out our event at 30 kids to keep it more personal. They go out and fish, then come back in for a lunch cooked by a church youth group. After that, the Northwest Georgia High School Anglers Association comes, sets up a stage, we do a pretend weigh-in and all the kids are given a plaque."
Every detail for successfully giving back with a C.A.S.T for Kids event are time- tested and readily available. Check the foundation’s website to watch a video that will answer some questions and introduce a dedicated team of Regional Directors who will assist in planning and guide executing an event.
These days, it’s common to see big marine brands with deep pockets taking action on major social issues. While boat dealers don’t have the same financial clout, they can donate time, money and resources to a worthy cause in their communities. In fact, a 2019 study reported in the Harvard Business Review found 72 percent of respondents said they believed locally owned businesses were more likely than large companies to be involved in improving their communities.
For more information on a partnership with the C.A.S.T. for Kids Foundation, contact Jay Yelas, executive director, at 541-602-9823 or by email.