When creativity pays off big: Big Stone County

By Kelly Asche

Last week we highlighted programs communities have developed to help their small businesses during the pandemic crisis. One of those programs, a campaign put on by the Big Stone Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, turned out to be highly successful. We thought it deserved its own post.

The Big Stone Lake Area Chamber of Commerce created the “COVID-19 Business Support Campaign,” a live telethon they hosted last week on KDIO 1350 AM and on Facebook Live, to take orders for gift certificates in any amount for local businesses. The gift card strategy provides a quick “loan” to businesses right away, then community members can use the cards later. They can also choose to just never use the cards, essentially turning their purchase into a donation to the business.

Before the telethon even started, the chamber had already raised over $20,000. By the end of the telethon, they had raised nearly $80,000. To build off the success, they extended the campaign, aiming for $100,000 and even broadened it by letting people donate money to the campaign, which the Chamber would use to purchase gift certificates and then give them to people in need in the community.

The plan worked. When the campaign ended on April 1, they had raised $107,275 through the sale of 2,074 gift certificates and cards.

One of the interesting things about the campaign, said Vicki Oakes, Director of the Big Stone Area Growth organization, is that not only did households contribute, but so did other businesses. Some businesses that are doing well during these times found this campaign to be a great way to support their peers.