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Blog / Jan. 12

The Single Most Impactful Opportunity at NRF 2017 Has Nothing to Do with Retail Software

Dave Bruno

As a seasoned technology marketer about to embark upon my (gasp) 25th consecutive NRF show, you might think it would pain me to dedicate valuable time and copy to ANYTHING not directly related to increasing our traffic and visibility during the retail industry’s biggest event of the year. And, normally, you would be right.

But not today.

Today, I am happy to dedicate my time (and this space) to something far more important than selling software: today I am dedicating this space to the amazing people of RetailROI.

If you make your living in any aspect of the retail industry and you don’t know of RetailROI, click this link. It’s time you learn about the important, impactful and indefatigable work carried out around the world, every single day, by the people of RetailROI.

RetailROI is an organization entirely funded, resourced and staffed by the people of retail. Their mission is simple, clear, and powerful: to help vulnerable kids. Greg Buzek inspires and leads a group of dedicated, talented people on a relentless quest to help kids that have been orphaned by war, terrified by Ebola, victimized by domestic abuse, or locked in a life of misery by traffickers.

Since its founding in 2009, RetailROI has helped over 150,000 kids in 18 countries. They are quite literally changing the future of this world, one child at a time. They raise awareness, they raise money, they organize volunteer trips, they identify nonprofit partners in the regions where they work, and they make a real, tangible difference. They give kids a fighting chance at a future worth fighting for.

So Many Stories…

The stories of heartbreak and healing, of courage and commitment, have humbled me. The people of RetailROI have changed the way I look at the world.

Because now the stories of vulnerable kids are personal to me. I no longer read stories of children struggling for food, for freedom, for life, with detached empathy. I now know the stories of the people risking their lives for these kids, and I now know the people who risk their lives for these kids.

Thanks to my relationship with the people of RetailROI, I now know Katie Meyler, of More Than Me , who, in the middle of a decade-long struggle to build a school for girls in West Point, Liberia, found herself rushing into(not away from) the worst Ebola crisis in history in order to save her girls.

Thanks to my relationship with RetailROI, I now know Sabuli Sanguma, who hid from a brutal civil war, with her five young kids, in the Congolese jungle for three months. I now know that Sabuli and her kids eventually escaped the Congo, and I now know that after she built a new life for her family in the United States she returned to the Congo to establish a home to help dozens of orphaned kids find safety, love and a chance at a future.

Thanks to my relationship with RetailROI, I now know Greg Buzek and Jeff Roster and Cathy Marder and Vicki Noreen and Nicole Taylor and Joe Skorupa and Diane Cerulli and Michelle Schoof and Jerry Sheldon and Dave Weinand and so many others who help vulnerable kids through generous investments of their time, their energy, their passion, their love, their optimism.

These people and their stories not only changed the way I look at the world, they changed me.

Bigger than Big Business

And so, as NRF comes around again, we unofficially kick off the event with Super Saturday. This will be the 8th year of the full day of networking, seminars and education that have real tangible business value for people from all walks of retail.

But Super Saturday delivers so much more than business value. The charities supported by RetailROI are there, sharing their amazing stories and signing up volunteers. The people of retail who support RetailROI and join them on their legendary trips are there. There is deep affection between all these people, many of whom are competitors in the business world. And yet they gather, they embrace each other and they embrace their shared mission, often with nothing more in common than their desire to help vulnerable kids.

That’s how RetailROI delivers real tangible value to your soul.

Making it Easy to Make a Difference

Sadly, it’s too late to sign up to attend or sponsor Super Saturday this year, but it’s not too late to participate in the many activities throughout the NRF event that support RetailROI. One of the easiest ways to participate? Simply share your opinion. When you attend a session during the conference, log on to the NRF mobile app and write a review. NRF will donate $1 for every review submitted through their app (up to $10,000).

Or you can simply visit the booths of the many vendors participating in RetailROI promotions. There are dozens of us supporting the cause. If you come by the Aptos booth, for example, you can shop any of our six store windows and bid via our silent auction on the merchandise donated by our generous clients (True Religion, Yankee Candle, Primark, Paper Source and Tumi have all merchandised windows for the auction), with all proceeds going directly to RetailROI. And as an added incentive, Aptos will match all winning bids.

So, yes, there is a lot of business to be done at NRF. There always is. But that’s not what matters most. The most important thing you can do is support RetailROI.

Because it’s good for your business. And it’s good for your soul.

Editor’s Note: Intrigued by Katie’s story as she battled against Ebola? Interested in hearing more of Sabuli’s saga in the jungle? Tune in to the Commerce of Caring podcast series to hear their compelling stories.