14,000 Catholic communities will receive 3 million rice bowls in this 47-year annual initiative
Merkle Response Management Group (Merkle RMG), a subsidiary of Merkle, dentsu’s leading technology-enabled, data-driven customer experience management (CXM) company, marks its 13th year providing order processing, contact center and fulfillment support for Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS) annual Rice Bowl program. In January, Merkle RMG and CRS distributed nearly 3 million sets of program materials to 14,000 Catholic parishes nationwide in support of CRS’ initiative to fight global hunger and poverty.
CRS Rice Bowl is a core program of CRS, an international humanitarian agency of the U.S. Catholic community that assists people in need in over 100 countries. Taking place each year during Lent, the program invites Catholic families in the U.S. to learn about families overseas who are experiencing poverty and hunger. Through their school or parish, millions of U.S. families receive a cardboard collection box—known as a “Rice Bowl”—that they fill with alms throughout Lent. These monetary donations support CRS programs in targeted countries.
Beth Martin, director of Mission and Mobilization campaigns at CRS, commented on Merkle RMG’s role in distributing Rice Bowls to millions each year.
“As one of our longest-running U.S. programs, CRS Rice Bowl is critical to our larger mission to assist the poor and vulnerable overseas,” said Martin. “Since 2009, Merkle RMG’s cost-effective, high-quality, and comprehensive services have allowed us to supply millions of families with the program resources they need to impact the lives of others.”
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Each year, the Rice Bowl campaign spotlights the stories of families from three different countries. The collection box comes with a Lenten calendar and a variety of meatless Lenten recipes from each country. All program materials are updated with new content each year and are available in both English and Spanish. With nearly 3 million Rice Bowl items to distribute before Lent, CRS relies on Merkle RMG’s expertise in high-volume order processing and fulfillment to ensure the materials are picked, packed, and shipped correctly and on schedule.
“The items ordered and the quantities of each that need to be fulfilled vary for each of the 14,000 orders we process, so accuracy is critical,” said Merkle RMG President Kent Grove. “It also requires a highly coordinated approach to order capture, customer service, and bulk fulfillment. Merkle RMG works closely with CRS at every stage of planning and production to ensure a seamless, timely operation. By keeping our services efficient and scalable, we help the CRS Rice Bowl team manage their high-volume distribution requirements with less cost and a high level of quality.”
In addition to fulfillment support, Merkle RMG provides contact center services to receive and process Rice Bowl orders from participants across the U.S. Merkle RMG also supports CRS with data management and reporting, equipping both teams with insights that inform strategic decisions throughout the year-long production cycle.
“Because of our long history working in tandem, Merkle RMG is able to help us anticipate and proactively address our operational needs for the upcoming year,” said Martin. “Merkle RMG’s account managers intimately understand our mission, and their tailored, strategic guidance has directly contributed to our success over the years.”
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