Wednesday, November 26, 2008

AIDS/HIV organization & an Unusual Retail Store

I was walking to a dance class one day in 2004, and passed a storefront with a sign that read "Pets are Wonderful Support." I googled it after class, and found that PAWS is a non-profit organization dedicated to keeping people with HIV/AIDS and other disabling illnesses together with their companion animals, by providing comprehensive care - a pet food bank, dog walking, cat care, supplemental vet services, transportation to vet appointments, and pet foster care. PAWS serves 400+ low-income human clients and their 500+ companion animals in San Francisco.

How cool is this organization??!!

Here's the PAWS promotional video --

I learned that these services are provided by a team of PAWS volunteers. I attended a volunteer training, and became a PAWS volunteer: I have walked a dog once a week, took care of a cat while the owner was hospitalized, regularly cleaned a bird's cage for a woman who lived in a nursing home, helped at a PAWS fundraiser, ran in a PAWS fundraiser 5K with my dog, and am delivering holiday stockings to PAWS clients next weekend. All of this, within walking distance of my apartment; so they are not just PAWS clients, but neighbors, too.

PAWS is an amazing organization, and a staple in the San Francisco community. In addition to providing individuals and their pets with care, PAWS educates the community on the benefits and risks of animal companionship.

PAWS receives a lot of community support, and is the benefactor of occassional cause marketing campaigns. In the November 2008 PAWS e-newsletter I learned of another cause marketing campaign benefitting PAWS:

Under One Roof's Union Square Holiday Shop
Under One Roof, raising funds for 29 Bay Area AIDS service organizations through its retail store at 518A Castro Street, has a special holiday shop in the Union Square district of downtown San Francisco. On the 2nd level of the Crocker Galleria at 50 Post Street, UOR's Holiday Store is open through January 9, 2009.

100% of the profits from UOR's operations are distributed to its beneficiaries including PAWS. Over its 18-year lifespan, Under One Roof has contributed more than $4 million in unrestricted operating funds to the AIDS community. For more information, visit their website at

I thought this was an interesting idea, and looked into it:

Under One Roof raises funds by selling items in their San Francisco store and via their website. They purchase 85% of their goods, wholesale. 15% of their goods are donated by retailers, and vendors. The proceeds from this 15% helps cover UOR's operating costs. UOR also holds fundraisers. They are able to make this work with favorable payment terms, freight terms, wholesaler pricing, and merchandise donations.

After covering their expenses, UOR gives 100% of their profits to their participating AIDS/HIV related non-profits. On average, each participating HIV/AIDs organization receives a 40–50% annual return on their investment.

"UOR was born in San Francisco in 1990, when a group of friends, wanting to help fight the AIDS epidemic ravaging their friends, family and community, had an idea: Create a small retail shop and donate all the profits to local HIV/AIDS service organizations. That first year, they simply sold gifts and wrapping paper during the winter holiday season from a little corner of the Names Project’s storefront on Market Street in the Castro district. Customers were thrilled they could support people affected byHIV/AIDS simply by giving gifts. And so began an enduring Under One Roof tradition — “giving the gift that gives twice.”

Several years later, Under One Roof blossomed into a year-round retail store on Castro Street. The new store was a truly collaborative effort: Agencies came together to sell merchandise, volunteers ran and staffed the store, corporate partners provided funding, vendors and retailers donated merchandise, and customers shopped their hearts out. All together, all “Under One Roof.”

In 2008, 18 years and more than $4 million in ASO donations later, Under One Roof moved across the street to 518A Castro Street — to a storefront triple the size of its previous location. In addition to retail in-store and online sales, Under One Roof now sponsors a variety of in-store and offsite fundraising events."

Check out this great video, which was filmed inside the UOR store:

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