We are excited to introduce a new column penned by our President and Founder, Dr. Gary Morsch. The column will appear periodically on the HHI Blog and share thoughts from "The Good Doctor." This edition reflects on the name of Heart to Heart and what it's worth to us...
We recently received a copy of the first report on the power of brands in the nonprofit sector. Somehow the producer of the report (Cone Inc.) sifted through the balance sheets from thousands of nonprofits, analyzed the strength of each brand, and came up with a list of the top 100 nonprofit brands in America. Considering that there are something like 2 million charities in the United States, anyone would be excited to be in the top 1,000--let alone the top 100--nonprofit brands in America.
We're still putting our arms around this new honor. For me, it boils down to our name.
"Heart to Heart" has so much emotional appeal. I mean, when you hear the name, it creates an immediate reaction.
We attribute the naming of our organization to Keith Johnson, a member of the Olathe Rotary Club and one of our staunchest supporters between 1992 and 1997. Keith runs an independent newspaper called Johnson's County Gazette. He has a flair with words, and he was instrumental in helping us communicate with the public in those early years when nearly everything at Heart to Heart was run by volunteers.
Our first project was a massive airlift to Russia. We thought it would be our last project--not only because we were basically operating out of a local Rotary club, but also because this Herculean effort consumed so much of our time. We realized that volunteers had real lives too, but we were amazed (and still are today) that they gave so much to make that airlift successful.
One of our clever slogans for the airlift early on was this: "A gift from the heart of America to the heart of Russia." Our original idea was to land the huge Air Force C-5A Galaxy-class aircraft in Moscow on Valentine's Day in 1992. People understood the significance. But it was a mouthful to say in public and in the media.
So Keith simplified it for us: It became the Heart to Heart Airlift. Much easier to say and explain.
After the airlift, our efforts had gained enough momentum that the volunteers wanted to do it again. (We had already been asked to organize an airlift to St. Petersburg.) Maybe it was a stroke of genius or simply dumb luck, but we had already registered as a 501(c)(3) in January 1992 under the name "Heart to Heart International."
Over the years, we toyed with the idea of changing our idea and maybe even our name. In 2004, we worked with Premier Studios to change our logo and tagline, but we kept the name.
We're glad we did: The Cone report says our brand is worth $62 million to us. (Boy, I wish we had that much in our bank account, because we could do so much more for people in need!)
Who knew that Keith's inspiration in 1992 would lead to a nationally recognized brand in 2009? Not me. But I'm so thankful that Keith used his gifts and helped us become the organization we are today!
It seems like such a simple thing -- a name -- but it mean so much to us. You can do more with us and through us by checking out our website. Join our volunteer movement and help us create a healthier world today!