Thirty-One Gifts thanks Columbus for hosting its 2015 conference.
Wendy Bradshaw surprises North Market shoppers with gift cards.
The numbers are in, and that's not just the number 31. Thirty-One Gifts welcomed over 10,000 independent consultants from the States and Canada for a business conference spanning from Friday, July 24 to this past Monday-but they weren't going to take over the Arena District without giving back to Columbus.
On Sunday, Thirty-One reached its goal of giving up to $10,000 to the Mid-Ohio Food Bank, where 31 cents was given for every "#31Share" shared on social media, accompanied by a description, photo or video of someone doing a random act of kindness.
The movement had support from local leaders including Mayor Michael Coleman, City Council President Andrew Ginther and US Congressman Pat Tiberi who posted their own acts of kindness for #31Share.
"People don't hear about the soup kitchen in the summer, only around Thanksgiving," says Wendy Bradshaw, Thirty-One philanthropy director, on why they decided to give to the food bank. "After doing research we found that moms and families come (to the food bank) more in the summer months and those are two pillars of our philanthropy."
Thirty-One also wanted to thank people throughout the Arena District for putting up with parking changes and crowds from the conference. Thirty-One corporate employees gave out $2,000 worth of gift cards for popular places, such as Starbucks and Tim Hortons, to strangers as random acts of kindness throughout the district, close to campus and in the North Market.
When employees gave out movie theater gift cards, they tried to find student couples. "One guy even cried saying, 'I'm a poor college student, I never get to go to the movies,'" says Bradshaw.
As consultants were roaming Columbus for more practical purposes, like eating, they were encouraged to give out 31 percent or $31 in tips.
However, consultants could give without spending a dime. "We didn't want people to think they had to spend money. Someone wrote, 'You are beautiful' on sticky notes and put it on mirrors in public places and encouraged people to do the same," says Bradshaw.
Spouses of independent consultants were not exempt from giving, and they kept themselves busy as their partners were attending the conference. "We had '31 Night' at a Clipper's game and had a give," says Bradshaw. "Husbands of Thirty-One sales consultants had Clippers cash they gave to families … and that got our husbands involved, which was really exciting." They gave out a total of $500 in Clippers cash, which could be used to buy concessions and merchandise items.
"We just always want to leave the conference city better than we arrived," says Bradshaw.