The Benefits of Benevolence Programs

On Valentine’s Day, the staff of The Society of American Florists—employees who typically work behind the scenes to advance the industry—got in on the action by delivering flowers to seniors in two assisted living communities in Alexandria, Virginia.

The SAF workers were among 500 volunteers (dubbed “Cupid’s Crew”) with Wish of a Lifetime, a nonprofit devoted to fulfilling elders’ dreams and sharing their stories to inspire those of all ages. Nationwide, the group organized 75 events and distributed 10,000 roses.


“The Valentine’s Day rose program was one of many compassion programs that Wish of a Lifetime conducts throughout the year to show senior citizens that they are loved and cared for,” said SAF Vice President of Marketing Jennifer Sparks. “SAF got involved because the effort beautifully illustrates the research we conducted with Rutgers University regarding senior citizens and flowers.”

The Rutgers study found that, in the presence of flowers, seniors showed a significant increase in happiness, performed higher on memory tests, and engaged in more social activity.

Although very familiar with the research, Sparks and her colleagues were overwhelmed by the anecdotal evidence. 

“Upon receiving a rose, the seniors’ eyes lit up and many seemed genuinely appreciative of our gesture of compassion,” Sparks said. “It was nice to play cupid and experience firsthand the positive benefits of a gift of flowers!”

Wish of a Lifetime is one of many benevolence programs that use flowers to deliver unexpected cheer. A few others include Random Acts of Flowers, Memorial Day Flowers, Teleflora’s Make Someone Smile Week, FTD’s Good Neighbor Week, The Lonely Bouquet, and Petal it Forward.

The payoff of these activities is immense. For starters, both the giver and recipient experience joy. And if you publicize your good deeds (hint: you should), you:

1) demonstrate to consumers the validity of flower power (showing is more effective than telling)

2) encourage others to get involved (kindness is contagious)

3) generate great PR for your brand (customers appreciate altruism)

If there’s no organized effort in your community, you can always institute your own. Think of demographics that could use a pick-me-up and pick an hour or two on a slow day to deliver smiles. Take photos and videos, because you want customers to actually see and hear recipients’ reactions. Email a local reporter a photo or two with a quick paragraph about what you did to spread the love even further.