The Electronic Retailing Association, a lobby for television and
online retailers, has donated more than $450,000 in marketing
services to the Wheelchair Foundation to date.
The ERA’s donations include a public service announcement, a radio
and print campaign, telemarketing services and media placement. The
ERA has also raised more than $187,500 – the equivalent of more than
“This is our first project on this scale – definitely the largest
that the ERA has ever worked on,” said Lauren Meley, spokeswoman at
the ERA, Arlington, VA. “It’s a wonderful cause, so we’re excited to
be able to contribute our services as well as those of companies in
Founded in 2000 by Kenneth E. Behring, the Wheelchair Foundation is
the largest wheelchair relief organization in the world. Each month
it delivers about 10,000 high-quality wheelchairs specifically
designed for developing countries.
The ERA Wheelchair Project will distribute wheelchairs in Israel, El
Salvador, Chile, Vietnam and South Africa. Plans also call for the
distribution of more than 280 wheelchairs in April at the Asia
Conference in Hong Kong.
About 30 companies in the industry have agreed to donate their
services to the ERA Wheelchair Project. The list includes Apex Media,
DirecTV, Discovery Communications, ShopNBC, Livemercial, Novus Print
Media, Icon Media Direct, Response Magazine and LiveOps. The
companies are located in the United States, Canada, Latin America,
Japan and the United Kingdom.
Dan Danielson, CEO and co-founder of Mercury Media and former ERA
chairman, began the ERA Wheelchair Project in 2005.
Ms. Meley said that supporting the Wheelchair Foundation
(wheelchairfoundation.org) plays a key role in the ERA’s effort to re-
brand itself. To that end, it is working with key industry players
and retailers to capitalize on consumer awareness. Also, this wasn’t
just about going out the usual way looking for support.
“We were able to pair up abilities and use the media directly,” Ms.
Meley said. “It wasn’t just about getting a couple of grand from
companies. These companies have a real interest in the work being
done by the foundation.
“The Wheelchair Foundation is an organization that is working for
such a good cause,” she said. “The ERA and the Wheelchair Foundation
are organizations with much in common. Both, for example, are
international and active in many countries. It was a natural match.”
The partnership between the two nonprofits was originally supposed to
be for one year, but Ms. Meley said “the partnership happily took on
a life of its own” and has grown into a major ongoing project.