O’Neil Printing’s Anthony Narducci believes giving back is giving your best
By Anthony Narducci
It was an eye-opener. My first trip to Africa was in 2008, when I accompanied my son to pick up our 10-month grandson from an orphanage in Ethiopia. The harrowing effect that extreme poverty has rendered over the area’s rural countryside is not something you soon forget. With more than 4,500,000 orphans in and around the Horn of Africa, local families and communities fight a never-ending battle against poverty and famine to provide these children with the support they need. Some 44% of children suffer from stunted development due to poor nutrition, while just 40% complete primary school.
The experience moved me. On one hand, my son and daughter-in-law were giving one of these children an opportunity for a better life—one where he would not have to long for the things he needs to find his way in the world. When I came home, I started to imagine how my company, O’Neil Printing, and I could use our capabilities, our networks and our interests to help change this paradigm in tangible, lasting ways. Since that first visit in 2008, I have made three additional community development-related pilgrimages to Africa (Uganda/Congo, Ethiopia and South Africa) and one to Haiti.
Whether in far-off lands or here at home, witnessing the stark differences between the haves and the have-nots can be daunting. The impressions become seared into your consciousness—encouraging you, if you are like me, to want to make a difference. I believe finding a cause that your customers can relate to helps give shape and definition to the values and culture of your company. For us, doing so gives the O’Neil Printing family a sense of the challenges the underserved, at-risk communities face locally and abroad.
I believe finding a cause that your customers can relate to helps give shape and definition to the values and culture of your company.
This philosophy is more than just cause or purposeful marketing. The time, effort and resources we commit to these causes help these organizations reach and expand their missions. Lending our resources is the perfect way to say, “We hear what you need and we are here for you.” The more that companies understand this—especially today—the more that they can show their customers how much they value things outside of simply selling a product or service.
Cause-related marketing is important in that it is an intentional effort to help shift your brand’s thinking and share a story that means something to someone. This inspiration must come from within—from the top, down. If, as a leader, you can remove the barriers and connect your vision with one of purpose, your internal and external stature will rise. Aligning your company’s purpose with your employees, interests and concerns is just as important as it is with customers.
Working for a higher purpose brings people together.
Walking the walk…
My approach to all of this is more a confluence of personal and business activities. For the strategy to be meaningful and sustainable, I believe you should align your personal and business sights on what you believe in, i.e., “Walk the walk and talk the talk.”
Upon returning from Ethiopia, I knew that my mindset had changed. I knew that the time and resources our company could lend to these non-profit organizations could not only expand their visions, but ours, too. Today, for example, we provide pro bono and discounted print services to select non-profits in which we invest personal time and resources—organizations like Lifewater (www.lifewater.org), Matthew’s Crossing (www.matthewscrossing.org) and Wheels4Water (www.wheels4water.org).
Wheels4Water is near and dear to me personally. Over the past seven years, as a print sponsor and a co-founder/participant, we have provided all of the print and wide format materials for Wheels4Water, helping raise more than $1 million. Since 2014, the organization has been on the front lines helping to make a difference in the fight against the global water crisis. Its tools include bicycles, a passionate community, storytelling and a general love for doing good. The countries and regions of Uganda and Ethiopia are at the heart of the Wheels4Water commitment and are a part of what shaped my commitment to causes like this.
In teaming with Wheels4Water, I was able to play logistics support and fundraising roles in the team’s various fundraising events and rides. The decision even helped me keep in shape by forcing me to make changes to my overall health and fitness regimen.
Here in the States, O’Neil remains committed to supporting causes like school food service in Arizona by providing banners, which helps promote the Free Meals Program to local communities. Today, nearly 600,000 students receive free or reduced-price school meals in Arizona, including 186,000 who already receive nutrition assistance. The O’Neil Printing team helps promote the fact that households receive benefits equivalent to one free lunch and one free breakfast for each eligible child.
And there are new challenges ahead. With a pandemic scorching its way around the world, companies in every industry are fighting to find their way amid the chaos. What does that mean for us and the industry we serve? How can cause marketing fit into the new business and economic landscape that is sure to shake out? These are hard questions that demand thoughtful answers. I believe that as we move forward there will be more opportunities to do good—especially as we will have to work together to battle through the social and economic challenges.
I believe that as we move forward there will be more opportunities to do good—especially as we will have to work together to battle through the social and economic challenges.
Our vision will remain true to our roots—to do good in our local and global communities and to continue to find ways to help organizations make an impact in the lives of the most vulnerable among us.
Someone asked me once why O’Neil Printing acts as a socially sound, responsibly focused company. How can we do the same? My answer is simple: Find something that breaks your heart. Get out of your comfort zone. Start doing something with your time and resources that can make a difference for people who do not have the same opportunities as you. If you do, you will be blessed by how it makes you feel. There is no greater act than being one who serves others.
Anthony Narducci is CEO of O’Neil Printing in Phoenix. Over the past 35-plus years, Narducci has been a leading voice in the commercial print industry.