By Mark Athitakis / Oct 15, 2019
(Alena Paulus/Getty Images)
During a strategic planning session in 2016, Angela Holland, CAE,
president of the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores, agreed with a
young professionals group that said one organizational focus of GACS
should be philanthropy. But what would that look like? Thinking about
the Super Bowl a few months later, Holland had a clear answer.
The charitable nonprofit In Our Backyard has successfully spotlighted
the problem of human trafficking in the United States, especially
around big-ticket international events like the Super Bowl. With the big
game coming to Atlanta in early 2019, GACS decided to pursue a
partnership with the group. That effort, called Convenience Stores
Against Trafficking, earned the association a Power of A Summit Award
this year from ASAE.
Convenience store employees are well positioned to assist in
addressing human trafficking, Holland says, because such stores are
among the few places where victims may be seen in public. Interest in
the program among GACS members was swift and enthusiastic.
“We signed up 17 companies and almost 300 stores,” she says. “And the
weekend before the Super Bowl, we had about 400 volunteers engaged to
spread the message in convenience stores.” Those volunteers distributed
books with photographs of missing children to convenience store and
truck stop employees and deposited stickers with emergency contact
information in restrooms.
The impact of GACS’s effort has been remarkable: By late May, 29 of
the 34 children listed in the book had been recovered, and multiple
trafficking victims received assistance.
Holland credits the program’s success with GACS members in part to
the materials In Our Backyard helped to create and distribute. But
direct contact with members through an education session at its annual
meeting was critical.
“We emailed constantly to inform as many retailers in our state as
possible,” she says. “But I think the biggest driver was hosting the
educational session at the tradeshow, where there was actually hands-on
GACS is keeping the program running, but it’s also working to pay its
success forward. The 2020 Super Bowl will be played in Miami, and GACS
has reached out its neighboring state to join the effort.
“We have invited the Florida Petroleum Marketers Association to a
friendly challenge,” Holland says. “I hope they have better numbers and
better stats next year than we have.
Mark Athitakis, a contributing editor for
Associations Now, has written on nonprofits, the arts, and leadership
for a variety of publications. He is a coauthor of The Dumbest Moments
in Business History and hopes you never qualify for the sequel. More »