Heat Shelters – A New Source Of Revenue? (Or: Opportunity Knocks But Once)

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On this Australia Day week-end (also known as “Invasion Day” by some Aboriginal people) there is usually acknowledgment of a couple of things which are regarded as basic to the Australian character. These are an unusual fondness for sports, and an equally unusual fondness for mocking the establishment.

The government has covered the first by naming a football player as Australian of the Year, so this blog will cover the other factor mentioned above.

TO: Marketing Manager

FROM: Creative Manager

Dear Fred,

Just a few thoughts on a possible new revenue source for not-for-profit organizations which work with the homeless. Let me know what you think.

Background: Most of these charities are concerned with shelters for the homeless against COLD weather. This is fine for the northern hemisphere, but is not such a problem in Australia. Here, it is more likely to be bloody HOT. Thank god for global warming and the economic opportunities it could give people like us.

Last week it was 44 degrees Celsius (111 Fahrenheit) in Adelaide and 45 degrees (113 Fahrenheit) in Melbourne, for a few days. In the Nullarbor, it was 48 degrees (118 Fahrenheit), in the shade. As the local wags say, “Pity there’s no shade” (Nullarbor means “no trees”). Last year, the weather bureau added a new colour to its temperature maps to show areas over 50 degrees Celsius. Unfortunately, there aren’t any homeless people (or any other people for that matter) in the outback, so no opportunities there.

I tested the theory it is possible (see photo below) to fry an egg on the ground!

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Existing services: It is relatively easy for the homeless to get water to drink, so supplying drinking water holds few opportunities. However, while most Australians head for the beach or turn up the air-conditioning etc. there is little relief of this kind available to the homeless.

It is far too expensive to bus the homeless to the beach, to make a reasonable profit from donations to do this. Similarly, existing facilities relying on electric fans (see typical one below) do not attract many donations, either from individuals or corporations. The options outlined below will be particularly attractive to faith-based charities, as the audience is “captive” to preaching, i.e. go outside and you’ll die!

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Options: There are two main options suggested. Both could realize reasonable, if not excellent, profits.

The first is to provide air-conditioning. People could donate their old air-conditioners, which could be repaired, and installed in existing homeless facilities. It would be possible to run a lot of ads like the one below to show how much the charity cares, and feed off the guilt of people who have their own air-conditioner, and want to up-grade to a larger model.

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Now, of course, most of the charities would be concerned at the cost of electricity to run the air-conditioning units, but a bit of creative work on fitting as many homeless as possible into the facility, would help. Below is a photo of a trial with the homeless queuing to get into such a facility. Naturally, a large sign for the charity would be placed nearby.

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There is a growing image problem for electricity supply authorities, due to price-gouging, which they would like to contain. “Partnering” with the charity on this project would help improve their image. It is low cost, and has successfully been used by corporations, such as McDonald’s.

The electricity company’s logo could be placed side-by-side with that of the charity, and the company could even run its own ads showing its corporate concern for the homeless. Air-conditioning unit manufacturers might also come on board by donating a token new unit, pay the charity a “partnership” donation, and also use this in its own ads. So, you can see that the first apparent problem can readily be turned into a real money-raising venture yielding a good profit.

The second option is probably the preferred one. While one or two air-conditioned facilities could be set up for PR purposes, most of them could use the second option.

This second option could REALLY bring in the money!

That is to provide swimming pool facilities. Now, I know you would say this is a very expensive option, but that can be managed. Below is another trial facility of this type:

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Government could subsidize this. Think of it. Five dollars a day for each of the homeless admitted to the pool. No public pool-operator could compete.

Local water authorities and water supply utilities would really want to back the project. No more of this sort of problem shown in the photo below.

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Which raises the matter of children. Children attract good donations. A pool for under-privileged children could also form part of the project (see photo below).

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There is one potential problem. Charities are very adept at cost-cutting in their programs for the homeless and under-privileged children. They may be tempted to take the water quality decline too far, resulting in the problem indicated below.

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While their lawyers could do something about liability, it would be best if “fresh” water could be regularly trucked in – this is cheaper than pool filters, chlorination etc. Most Australian cities are located on a river, so this would be the obvious source of the water replacement now and then.

It would involve investment in water delivery trucks, but government grants could be obtained for them. They also would provide a very visible, mobile ad for the charity and its corporate “sponsors”. (The water utility companies are under as much pressure as the electricity utility companies for price-gouging, remember).

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On a final note, a leaf can be taken from the book by the Salvation Army regarding the homeless. Not only do they feed and house the homeless, they also feed (via Freedom Catering) and house (e.g. Collaroy Center) the rich, with the justification that the considerable profits go to help the homeless. Below it a typical example of “cooling the rich.”

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All in all, me and the boys in the creative department think this could be sold to some deserving charity – I hope you agree.

Yours,

Charlie

[Postscript: The royal commission has announced on its Facebook page, the first enquiry into Girls’ Homes – The Parramatta Girls Training School in Sydney, NSW and The Institution for Girls in Hay, NSW (both government facilities), beginning on Monday 24th February 2014 in Sydney. Information can be obtained at http://bit.ly/1hQA8Px ]

Read more here:

TOMORROW:  Parramatta Girls’ Home

That’s all I can say

Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)

 

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