This page was last update in August 2022
This page will explain the history of our one for one donation program. Our donation program has evolved over the years from a simple one for one match and a handful of donations per week to a fairly complex process which send outs an average of 1,000 donation boxes a month. We had not anticipated how much time, space and work that simply packing boxes filled with donations would be. Logistically, it is like running an entirely separate business.
Max and Neo began in late 2015 with a single product, a double handle leash in black and blue color. During its first year it was easy to donate exactly one for one. During this time, if a customer purchased a black double handle leash, a rescue was donated a black double handle leash.
This was very easy to do because we simply had to count the number of black and blue leashes sold and donate the exact number and color each month. At this time, we had only a few rescues on our donation list and each rescue could use a leash, no matter its color.
In 2016 we began to sell dog collars. We also now offered leashes and collars in four colors, black, blue, red and pink.
As our sales increased and the number of rescues on our list did also, it became harder to match each donation exactly. So we made some changes to our donation program.
The first issue was that matching the exact color of each donation was time consuming. If we sold 15 red collars and 15 black collars, would it be ok if we donated 30 blue collars? We thought it would be fine, so we decided not to do exact color matches for the donations.
The second issue that came up was the collar sizing. If we had sold 100 large collars and we were supposed to donate to a chihuahua rescue that month, it made no sense to send them large collars. If we were to remain true to our one for one donation, we would have to wait until we sold enough extra small collars to send the chihuahua rescue its donation.
So we made the decision that we would do a collar for collar donation. The size and colors of the collars did not have to 100% match. This means that when we sold 100 large collars, we could donate 25 extra small collars, 50 small collars and 25 large collars depending on what size collars the rescues getting the donation preferred.
We now also sold different types of collars. We were selling martingale collars and regular collars. Some dog rescues only use a certain type of collar. For example, if a rescue only used a chain martingale collar, it did not make sense for us to send them regular snap collars. Again, we ran into the same issue. If we had sold 100 regular collars and we were suppose to donate to a rescue that only used chain martingales, we would have to wait until we sold enough chain martingale collars to send that rescue its donation.
So we made the decision that the collar type did not have to match either. This means that if we sold 100 regular collars, we could donate 50 chain martingales, 25 nylon martingales and 25 regular collars, all depending on what collars the rescues getting the donation preferred.
I guess we should take a step back and explain what is in our donation boxes.
In 2015 and 2016, our donation boxes were fairly simple. They consisted of 30-50 leashes and collars. We didn't have a set number of items per box as it all depended on our sales numbers and how many rescues we were shipping to that week. We simply divided the number of sold items by the number of donation boxes.
In 2017, with the addition of products, we standardized our boxes to contain 25 items each. We decided that the lesser number of items meant that we could send out more boxes to more rescues. Ultimately, we thought that two rescues getting a box of 25 items would be better than one rescue getting 50 items. Even though this meant more labor and shipping costs.
(Below is what our first donation boxes in 2015 looked like)
(Our donation boxes in 2016)
In 2017 we began to offer a larger selection of products which included harnesses, blankets and dog toys. Our donation box began to mature into what it is today. We were still doing our one for one donation as per our 2016 decisions. But the addition of things like blankets and dog toys increased the complexity of managing the donation boxes.
Whenever we launch a new product, it takes time for its sales to grow and some products never get to a decent amount of sales. Our leashes and collars were selling at a pretty consistent number at this time. However, a new product, like a dog toy had sporadic sales.
We tried to give rescues a variety of items inside a donation box such as leashes, collars and hopefully a toy or blanket. However, sometimes the new dog toy wouldn't have enough sales for us to donate one in every donation box.
For example, if we had to pack 100 donation boxes, but we only sold 75 toys, that meant that 25 of the rescues did not get a toy, but instead would have received another collar or leash.
Because of this donation boxes were not very consistent as some rescues would get 20 leashes and 5 collars and others would get 5 leashes and 15 collars and 5 toys.
Our donation list had grown to around 2000 rescues at this time.
Being consistent is great for us as it helps streamline our packing process, but it is also great for rescues. Imagine a rescue needing collars and they open up a donation box from us and receive leashes and toys only. That does not help them at all. So in 2018 we decided to standardize our donation box so that we could provide a consistent donation across all rescues. Now rescues expecting a donation box from us know what they will be getting in the box.
We decided to go with 8 leashes, 12 collars and 5 other items in each box. The rescue could choose the type and sizes of the 12 collars. The leashes would be standard 6 foot leashes. Small dog rescues would get smaller and lighter leashes.
The 5 other items would consist of blankets, toys, treats or supplements depending on what we had sold.
Our donation list had grown to over 3500 rescues by this time.
From 2015-2019 our donation schedule was simple in our eyes but probably random to the public and to the rescues.
When we started in 2015, our plan was to simply donate down our list of rescues in a first come first served order.
For example, if there were 100 rescues on our list and we donated to 25 a month, it would take us 4 months to donate to the entire list. The first rescue on our list would get a donation in January and their next donation in May.
As our list grew and sales grew, it wasn't quite as easy to determine when donations were coming. Using the example above, if our list grew to 200 rescues and sales remained the same. Each rescue would receive a donation every 8 months. However if our sales doubled and the rescue list stayed the same, each rescue would a donation every 2 months.
So you can see that our donation schedule was very inconsistent and we would receive emails from rescues asking when they could expect their next donation.
Beginning in 2020 we went to a set alphabetical donation schedule. This was our planned schedule (before Covid).
2020 Donation Schedule
Month - Rescues that start with letter
January 2020 - 0-9 & A-C
February 2020 - D-G
March 2020 - H-M
April 2020 - N-R
May 2020 - S-Z
June 2020 - 0-9 & A-C
July 2020 - D-G
August 2020 - H-M
September 2020 - N-R
October 2020 - S-Z
November - Preparation for Holiday Donations
December - Holiday Donations to All Rescues
As you can see, now rescues knew exactly which month their donations will be arriving. The new schedule combined with a standard donation box of 25 items made it much easier for us to manage our donations and more importantly made it easy for rescues to plan. Rescues now know that they can expect a box that contains at least 8 leashes and 12 collars from us on a particular month.
Of course in 2020, the world didn't go according to plan. Covid disrupted our ability to pack donations in March so our schedule got delayed, but we made up for it by December.
Holiday Donation Boxes (2018-present)
In 2018, we thought it would be great to surprise all the rescues on our list with a holiday December donation! At the time of conception, we only had 2000 rescues on our donation list so we thought it wouldn't be too difficult!
It was so well received that we did it again in 2019 (with 3000 boxes) and 2020 (with 3800 boxes).
Well now it is kind of a Max and Neo tradition. So much so that it is permanently built into our donation schedule. All rescues on our donation list will get a donation every December.
(Below is the 2019 Holiday Donation Box)
One for One Donation in Dollars Sold (2020-present)
As some of you probably figured out, when we put out a schedule like this we are committing to donating at a set schedule. We have basically committed to donate to every rescue on out list 3 times each year. We have also committed to the number of products in each box.
With 4,500 rescues on our list, donating to each one 3 times a year, we are sending our 13,500 donation boxes. In each donation box, there are 25 items. That means that we will send out 337,500 items in donations each year.
We know that each donation box which has 8 leashes,12 collars and 5 other items has a retail value of around $400. So for every $400 of product we sell, we match it with a donation box. That means that we are now basically doing a one for one match in retail dollars sold. This is a much easier metric for us to follow and it correlates fairly well with the number of items sold.
So 13,500 donation boxes x $400/per box equals $5,400,000. This is the sales number that we need to hit to equal our one for one donation in dollars sold.
We like our new donation model because it gives us much more flexibility to be creative. Because we match retail dollars now, we are able to sell unique items which would not been feasible doing a one for one item donation.
A great example of this was the Max and Neo paddleboard. We sold this paddleboard for $750. It would not have made sense to donate a paddleboard to a rescue, so instead we donated 50 collars and leashes (retail $750) to a rescue per paddleboard sold.
Have you ever wondered why so many companies donate a percentage of profits vs. a one for one donation? Well, we did too until we started our one for one donation program. Writing a check is so much easier! Below are the added costs of doing a one for one donation program.
- Purchasing additional inventory - we purchase double the inventory that a normal business does.
- Storing additional inventory - all the extra inventory must be stored so we rent a much larger warehouse. Estimated 2021 donation inventory warehouse rent was $96,000
- Shipping and Boxes - sending out donations requires boxes, tapes and shipping fees. Estimated 2021 boxes and shipping costs were $200,000.
- Labor - it takes people to manage the extra inventory and donation process, pack boxes, answer rescue emails, etc... Estimated 2021 labor costs - $80,000