MILWAUKEE What can a small business do to help hungry Milwaukee-area families during the pandemic?

That’s what Outlook Management Group, LLC, AMO® president Ray Balfanz, CPM® asked himself in Fall 2020. He knows many families don’t have enough to eat, especially during a pandemic, and he wanted to do something about it.

But Outlook is a small company, and managing shelter – not food – is its core business.

What would happen, thought Balfanz, if there were a few more concerned business owners like him? Could people banding together make a difference in raising food and funds for hungry families? Could working with his connections mean a bigger collection?

Balfanz talked to several business associates – all real estate- or construction-focused – told them he’d match what they gave, and the “CollectionConnection” was born.

Partnering with Hunger Task Force of Milwaukee, the local food bank created a page for the “CollectionConnection” on its website. Donors went to Outlook’s website, clicked on a link to the page, gave a dollar amount, or clicked individual food items – turkeys, green beans, brown rice, even the entire holiday dinner. What used to involve buying food and driving to a drop-off location was done in a couple of minutes.

By the drive’s conclusion, Outlook’s “CollectionConnection” raised $5,591 – 220 percent over its $2,500 goal, which fed more than 40 families for one week, plus a holiday meal for each family. Many other businesses and individuals also gave, which made the difference in putting the drive far over goal.

It’s a “drop in the bucket” in southeastern Wisconsin’s sea of hunger, says Balfanz. But 2020 was only the beginning. He’s already planning the 2021 “CollectionConnection” in which Outlook will be expanding the drive’s time frame from six weeks to 10 and asking a higher level of giving from partners.

“Imagine not having enough food to feed your family. It’s a terrible thing, but we can do something about it,” says Balfanz.

“By increasing our goal, next year and for years to come, we’ll be able to do even more.

“I can’t think of a better way to make good use of our business connections.”

Outlook’s 2020 partners were Pinnacle Construction, LLJ Ventures, Wisconsin Mall Properties, and Don Johnson.

Outlook Management Group, LLC, AMO® is located in Muskego, Wisconsin. In business since 2008, Outlook is a full-service real estate management firm providing property and asset management services including lease administration, accounting and financial analysis, construction management, and consulting services.