Making an impact

Local telemarketing firm donates its time to help nonprofits in need

Impact Marketing’s Chris Howell holds a guitar autographed by musician Michael Franti and his band Spearhead.

Impact Marketing’s Chris Howell holds a guitar autographed by musician Michael Franti and his band Spearhead.

Photo By Christine G.K. LaPado

When asked to pick one from a lengthy list of local businesses that donate services and money to the Torres Community Shelter—the 120-bed homeless shelter in south Chico—Brad Montgomery, the shelter’s executive director, chose Impact Marketing. The Cherry Street business is a local telemarketing call center that works to renew and sell subscriptions for newspapers across the United States.

Impact Marketing “does no-cost telemarketing campaigns for us,” Montgomery said. Owner Chris Howell, said Montgomery, pays his 20-person staff “in the thousands” to do the charity work of raising money and awareness for the Torres Shelter as well as for a number of other local nonprofits. “I think that’s pretty remarkable,” he added.

Howell, a soft-spoken 41-year-old transplant from Lincoln, Neb., said he came up with the idea to use his telemarketing business to help worthy causes approximately six years ago, after he and his wife, Christine, “started seeing in the [local] newspapers that there were agencies that needed help.” While his business’ banks of phones are in full swing in the evenings, they were sitting unused during the day.

Impact Marketing worked with Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build program for its first charity campaign, soliciting volunteers and donations.

Howell’s recent work with the Torres Shelter has involved calling tens of thousands of people to apprise them of the needs and services of the shelter.

“They have funding for nine months of the year,” said Howell, “but they have to raise money for the other three months, you know. I thought if I contacted those 40,000 people and let them know that the need was there, that we could make a difference.”

Howell, a music lover, also donated one of several Ovation guitars he had autographed by musician Michael Franti and his band Spearhead during a recent local appearance to the shelter’s Christmastime silent-auction fundraiser. Howell also donates the money he raises from selling autographed guitar pick-guards on eBay to charitable causes. Included in his impressive collection are ones signed by Bob Weir of Grateful Dead fame, American Idol winner Taylor Hicks and the entire membership of Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe.

Howell donates guitars and pick-guards autographed by celebrity musicians—in addition to his company’s telemarketing services—to help raise funds for local nonprofits.

Photo By Christine G.K. LaPado

Impact Marketing also helped raise the $80,000 needed by Forest Ranch Charter School to reopen after the school was closed down by the Chico Unified School District, and is currently working with the Sunshine Connection, a local nonprofit offering activities for kids with and without disabilities, and Four Winds Charter School to help raise money for shoes and clothing for its new running program.

“I have a happy staff,” said Howell. “They’re very pleased to be able to do something they’re passionate about with their [telemarketing] skills … We’re looking to take on a new nonprofit each quarter.”