Current Weather
The Spy FM

A Look Back at How Businesses Stepped Up During May Tornadoes

Filed by Michael Cross in Business, Feature, Local News, News.
November 18, 2013

Click here to download audio

Six months after a series of devastating tornadoes touched down in Central Oklahoma, we’re taking a look back this week at the recovery effort.

In the aftermath of the storms, private charities raised close to $70 million, and tens of millions more in in-kind donations poured into the region.

But some of that aid was more helpful than others.

In part one of our series today, Kate Carlton looks at local businesses who donated their proceeds and the balance between good public relations and an altruistic desire to help.

McNellie’s Pub has four locations across Oklahoma… one in Norman, one in Oklahoma City and two in Tulsa.

On an average weeknight, they’re all packed with people meeting up with friends and unwinding from the day.

After the May tornados, owner Elliot Nelson says many of his customers were looking for a way to give back, so he came up with a plan.

“It was a way to get people engaged that they could come enjoy a beer but also know that all the money was going to go down to help people.”

Nelson and his team chose to donate all proceeds from Oklahoma beer sales to the American Red Cross of Central and Western Oklahoma.

The relief drive spanned 9 days, from May 22nd to the 31st.

In the end, they raised over $28,000.

“A few days in I think we realized, “Oh, this is going to be a bigger number than we thought.” But we just kind of rolled with it. “

That’s a substantial amount for any local business, especially since breweries didn’t donate the beer for the pub’s relief drive.

But University of Central Oklahoma marketing professor Stacia Wert-Gray says it probably didn’t make a huge dent in McNellie’s bottom line.

“Beer is a huge markup in restaurants and any types of fountain drinks. The cost of the beer they poured was not that high. What they did lose was the opportunity cost of the revenue that they would’ve generated by selling the beer. So, if you sell a beer for $4, you may have paid a dollar for that, but you lose out on the $3 revenue stream that would’ve covered that. “

Nelson says McNellie’s had to order more Oklahoma beer than it had planned because the success of the drive.

This could be, in part, due to a concept called moral credentialing.

“You might feel like you shouldn’t drink at all or you should drink only a little bit,” says University of Oklahoma psychology professor Ryan Brown.

“And so am I going to get that third or fourth beer? I can hear my mother say, ‘No, don’t do it, don’t do it.’ But I want that beer. So if I feel like, ‘Oh! I’m giving to charity. They’re going to give some of the proceeds to help tornado victims; well I’m actually doing a social good’ and that gets me over the hump.”

The idea of doing social good clearly resonated with McNellie’s customers.

And while some people questioned the motives of businesses donating their proceeds to the tornado relief, UCO Professor Wert-Gray says local businesses tend to be genuinely altruistic when it comes to helping out in their communities.

“They really want to be part of the community because if the community is struggling, then nobody is going to go patronize their store.”

In the overall scheme of things, the $28,000 McNellie’s raised may sound like a drop in the bucket, but unlike the $6 million from a series of relief concerts held shortly after the tornadoes, it was available almost immediately to survivors.

Funding for the Oklahoma Tornado Project comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Our series continues tomorrow with a look at media relief drives.

Leave a Reply

11PM to 5AM The Spy

The Spy

An eclectic mix of the Spy's library of more than 10,000 songs curated by Ferris O'Brien.

Listen Live Now!

5AM to 6AM The Splendid Table

The Splendid Table

Hosted by award-winning Lynne Rossetto Kasper, The Splendid Table is a culinary, culture and lifestyle program that celebrates food and its ability to touch the lives and feed the souls of everyone.

View the program guide!

6AM to 7AM Travel with Rick Steves

Travel with Rick Steves

"Travel with Rick Steves" is a fun, hour-long, and practical talk show with guest experts and calls and questions from travelers. This weekly program is a lively conversation between travelers and the experts as we learn to explore our world smartly, smoothly, and thoughtfully.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center