DRIVE UNITED: How Local Auto Dealers Partnered to Advance the Common Good

by Kellie Cochrane

Posted on behalf of Rick Chambers, Rick Chambers & Associates 

Car Sponsorship

Sweepstakes winner, Terri Musolff, picking out her new car

The automobile sales industry is one of the most competitive on Earth. With production costs rising and personal income stagnant or declining, every sale matters. As a result, dealers work hard to distinguish their businesses from their peers.

Yet 11 Michigan auto dealers in Battle Creek and Kalamazoo put their rivalries in the back seat during the recent United Way campaign. Those dealerships, along with the Kellogg Community Federal Credit Union, pitched in a total of $30,000 to support a car sweepstakes as an incentive for people to contribute to the campaign.

“I was amazed by this partnership,” said Mike Larson, President and CEO of the United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region (UWBCKR). “The dealers were enthusiastic supporters. They wanted to do everything they could to enhance the campaign and benefit the community.”

By co-sponsoring the sweepstakes – over and above their normal United Way contributions – the dealers offered a vehicle of choice up to $30,000 to the grand prize winner. Donors who gave to United Way for the first time or who increased their gift by at least $50 over the previous year were automatically entered in the drawing; others used our website to enter.

While incentive sweepstakes have been held before in conjunction with United Way campaigns, this was the first to cover the Kalamazoo and Battle Creek region collectively. Dealers displayed vehicles at 59 different locations, often in conjunction with campaigns at local businesses. Marketing and information materials highlighted the partnership and the dealerships involved. In all, more than 80,000 working adults were exposed to the effort.

The promotion made a difference: 10,987 donors qualified for the drawing, contributing a total exceeding $1.4 million. In December 2012, long-time United Way donor Terri Musolff, an employee at Kazoo Inc./Edwards Garment, won the vehicle of her choice.

Two of the sponsoring dealers said the collaboration was fun and beneficial to their communities.

Added Jeff DeNooyer, President of Metro Toyota in Kalamazoo and a UWBCKR board member, “It’s what United Way and its slogan, LIVE UNITED, is all about. I’m glad that all the participating dealers were able to demonstrate the power of partnership.”

Organizations that supported the sweepstakes were the following:

Maple Hill Auto Group

Kellogg Community Federal Credit Union

Cole Nissan Cadillac GMC Buick

Seelye Wright Automotive Group

Henkel Chrysler Jeep Dodge

Orrin B. Hayes Inc. Jeep/Mercedes-Benz/Mazda

Lakeview Ford

Zeigler Automotive Group

DeNooyer Chevrolet

Metro Toyota

Heritage Chevrolet

Sunshine Toyota