By Tom Still
MADISON – When FedEx/Kinko’s needed to dispose of 1,100 used copier machines, it could have sent them to landfills at a cost of $200,000 to the company – and a harder-to-calculate cost to the environment. Instead, the company turned to Aidmatrix to essentially “recycle” the machines by donating them to non-profit organizations. FedEx/Kinko’s saved money and earned good will, hundreds of small operations received much-needed office equipment, and Aidmatrix made a few dollars on the transaction.
In case you ever wondered about what happened to Scott McCallum, Aidmatrix is a big part of the answer.
Former Wisconsin Gov. McCallum, who served about two years in the state’s chief executive office before losing the 2002 election to current Gov. Jim Doyle, has a different “chief executive” title these days. He is president and CEO of Aidmatrix, a Dallas-based organization that is using the power of the Internet to get the right aid to the right people.
“My goal is pretty simple: To have all of the usable waste and surplus in the world go through our network to find a home,” said McCallum, who was hired by the non-profit Aidmatrix in early 2005. He now spends about one week each month in Wisconsin.
Think of Aidmatrix as an eBay for the corporate charitable world. Aidmatrix helps provide humanitarian and disaster relief by getting aid where and when it is most needed. In 2005, its first full year as a separate organization, it will process more than $900 million in surplus food and other supplies by working with partners such as America’s Second Harvest, the United Nations World Food Programme, the National Association of Free Clinics and First Book. It will deal with corporate donors such as Kraft, ConAgra, Quaker, Sunsweet, Sun Microsystems, FedEx-Kinko’s, Accenture and i2 Technologies, which created the software that powers the system.
Aidmatrix has operations in the Americas, Europe and Asia, and its network helps on-the-ground agencies such as UNICEF, the American Red Cross, Save the Children and more by quickly connecting donors to a specific need.
“We handle most of the (donated) food in the United States,” said McCallum, all in a virtual way. Aidmatrix doesn’t own a single warehouse or a fleet of trucks to move goods around. Nor does it make decisions about who receives what donations. That’s strictly up to the marketplace, the donors and the links created by the technology.
A visitor to the Aidmatrix web site (www.aidmatrix.org) can learn about “virtual aid drives,” which make it possible to donate money to buy items needed by a variety of non-profits. Another button is a “value calculator,” which uses industry benchmarks, market information and tax law to help corporate donors determine the financial and social return on their contributions. The site also provides disaster alerts and “donor management” tools.
In June, Aidmatrix was one of 10 organizations, corporations and agencies worldwide to be cited by the Computerworld Honors Program. Winners were chosen from among 48 finalists from 10 nations based on their innovative and visionary use of information technology. The supply-chain technology being used by Aidmatrix was previously employed almost exclusively by for-profit companies.
“We were thrilled to be honored, given that other recipients included Turner Broadcasting, OnStar and Sprint,” McCallum said.
Few would question the need to better match surplus and donated goods with people who need them. In the United States alone, 96 billion pounds of food go to waste each year while 34.5 million Americans struggle with hunger. About $6.25 million n medical products are destroyed in the United States each year, but tens of millions of Americans don’t receive adequate health care.
If Aidmatrix is the eBay of corporate giving, is McCallum a Wisconsin version of former President Jimmy Carter, who became known for his work with Habitat for Humanity after he left the White House? Aidmatrix is too new of an organization, and McCallum is too new in the job, to make the comparison. But if the early statistics are any sign, both McCallum and Aidmatrix have found a good match.