Win-Win for Local Business and Charity

Business Owner - Grant Milburn

Business owner Grant Milburn with his collection dog, Guide Dogs Tasmania Ambassador Dexter, and Project Officer Paul Wyld.

Launceston business owner Grant Milburn believes it is a win-win situation when businesses show support for local charities.

Mr Milburn, who owns period renovation supplies shop Paraphernalia in the Launceston CBD, has been supporting Guide Dogs Tasmania for the past five years through the “Stay” Club.

“Stay” is the name given to the Collection Dogs that sit on the counter or floor of shops, and the program has been one of the most important donation sources for Guide Dogs Tasmania for many years.

“By supporting a local charity, I feel good about it, and my customers feel good about it,” Mr Milburn said.
“And by promoting a local charity, you become a good community business that people respect.”

Mr Milburn said he had always considered Guide Dogs Tasmania to be a worthwhile charity, and was pleased when he was approached around five years ago to support them.

As well as having the dog sitting on the counter for any loose change, Mr Milburn encourages customers to buy something from his $5 bin, where they can then choose to donate their money to either Guide Dogs Tasmania or another charity.

Paul Wyld, Fundraising Project Officer for Guide Dogs Tasmania, said Mr Milburn was a great example of a local business owner supporting a local charity, but unfortunately it has become increasingly difficult to grow the project and sustain the income over the last two years.

“While we currently have over 2,000 Collection Dogs placed around the state, we’re struggling to find new businesses who want to help out,” he said. “It costs us well over $30,000 to raise and train each Guide Dog for a Tasmanian who is blind or vision impaired, and with no government funding it’s vital we have the community’s support.”

Mr Wyld said there were various reasons why businesses were handing back their dogs or simply not taking one, including too much competition for that top spot on the counter.

“If you can spare the space, we can secure the dog, and are even happy for you to rotate our dog with your other chosen charities,” he said.

Mr Wyld said Guide Dogs Tasmania has a group of friendly volunteers that head out reliably and regularly to complete a Collection Dog schedule, and no place is too far.
“While our offices are located in Launceston and Hobart, if someone rings us up with a full dog before our volunteers are scheduled to be in the area, we will make our best effort to get out to them and replace it as soon as possible, and as efficiently as possible.”

Mr Wyld believes that this relationship that staff and volunteers have with local business owners and the general public has contributed to Guide Dogs Australia being voted “Most Trusted Charity Brand” by Readers Digest for the past two years.

“We understand that there are a lot of worthwhile charities around these days, but I think people really appreciate being able to speak to someone face-to-face about our services.”

Mr Wyld said that not all Tasmanians may realise that 100 per cent of donations to Guide Dogs Tasmania goes towards their services. The Guide Dog Development Program, which is their largest cost, can only operate thanks to the generosity of the public.

“Guide Dogs Tasmania is the only organisation based in Tasmania that provides specialist services, including Guide Dogs, to blind or vision impaired people,” Mr Wyld said. “Business owners and the public can be assured that their money will stay in the state and go towards helping someone that really needs it.”

There are currently 22 working Guide Dogs in the state, with a constant demand for more.

If your business or workplace would like to take a Collection Dog and be part of the “Stay” Club, contact Guide Dogs Tasmania on 1800 484 333.