Giving Tuesday at Magellan Promotions

Giving Tuesday is a global giving movement celebrated the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, helping to kick off the charitable giving season. This year the entire Magellan Promotions team got involved by making donations to our favorite causes and charities.  Thanks to matched donations from Magellan Promotions, our staff were able to contribute over $700 to these worthy organizations.

Here’s where we each donated, and why.

Michael: Roots Ethiopia

A family supported by Roots Ethiopia

Roots Ethiopia supports Ethiopian families succeeding in work and school through supporting and creating a number of self-help initiatives.  The long term vision is focusing on proactive, sustainable projects and are based on local wisdom and experience.  Roots Ethiopia gives form to supporting Ethiopians helping Ethiopians, anchored in a partnership that values culturally-appropriate, forward-thinking ways.

My wife and I adopted both of our boys from Ethiopia, so the country is close to our family’s heart.  The organizers of Roots Ethiopia adopted children from Ethiopia as well and have the same goals that we have for families living in rural Ethiopia.  We have seen and learned about the importance of their mission of supporting children getting an education and women having opportunities to be independent through means of work.  Our family is excited to support these goals.

To learn more about Roots Ethiopia, visit

Julia: Zoological Society of Milwaukee

Strannik, an Amur Tiger at the Milwaukee County Zoo

I grew up going to the zoo, taking zoo classes and exploring with my parents and younger brother. While I may have outgrown most zoo classes, I still spend many mornings wandering around the zoo and visiting some of my favorite animals (including the Amur tiger family – with their three almost-grown cubs!)

The Zoological Society of Milwaukee not only supports the Milwaukee County Zoo, they participate in wildlife and endangered species conservation and educate the community on the importance of wildlife and the environment. In addition to providing financial and volunteer support, the zoological society provides exceptional animal, environmental and science-based educational opportunities to children, adults and families and works with conservation groups around the world to protect species that are in immediate danger of extinction.

To learn more about the Zoological Society of Milwaukee, visit

Rachel: The Women’s Center

I support the Women’s Center because I feel strongly in their mission to help support families in need, especially children who often suffer silently in these situations.

The Women’s Center’s mission is to provide safety, shelter, and support to women and their families and to facilitate their development. The Women’s Center provides free and comprehensive services designed to address the issues of domestic violence, sexual assault and abuse. The services offered by The Women’s Center include emergency shelter for abused families, transitional living, counseling, child abuse prevention programming, legal advocacy and employment counseling.

To learn more about the Women’s Center, visit

Alyssa: Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation

Alyssa volunteering at the VLCF Gala

I’m giving to the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation because of the work they are doing for Cancer Research. With many instances of cancer affecting my family and those of many friends, this cause is near and dear to my heart.

The Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation (VLCF) is dedicated to winning the battle against cancer by funding advancements in cancer research and compassionate care. Since 1971, VLCF) has raised over $19 million in the fight against cancer.  It has grown to include additional charitable cancer fundraising events such as the Vince Lombardi Award of Excellence Dinner Ball, Food and Wine event and Lombardi Walk/Run, among others.

To learn more about the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation, visit

Hannah: Wisconsin Conservatory of Music

The Wisconsin Conservatory of Music brings music education to over 17,000 students of all ages, many who would not have access to quality music programming without this organization. I have a close connection to the Conservatory from the time I spent working here, and have seen how strong of an impact music can have on the lives of these students, young and old. The Conservatory helps to remove the barriers keeping musicians from pursuing their passions, such as by offering them scholarships.

To learn more about the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music, visit

Alli: Wisconsin Humane Society

Animals have always been a large part of my life and my family. I want to do what I can this holiday season to help those poor animals that don’t have a home and are left out in the cold. The Wisconsin Humane Society helps rehouse and rehabilitate homeless animals every single day, giving them the opportunity they wouldn’t have had before to thrive be loved by families throughout the state. For that, I am extremely thankful.

To learn more about the Wisconsin Humane Society, visit

Giving Back Mid-Year Recap

Half the year is gone! Time sure does fly. Here is a look at how Magellan Promotions has contributed to our community the first half of 2015:


January – Back in September 2014, we had great success we had with our social media driven donation for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Because of that success, we started the year off with a second social media driven donation. For every like or share of our Magellan Promotions Facebook Page, we donated $1.00 to The Guest House of Milwaukee. It is Milwaukee’s largest publicly-funded homeless shelter, providing shelter to 86 men each night, and over 400 individuals each year. We saw an astronomical increase in our total reach for this post: 10,260 people! In the end, we donated $250.00 on Match Day, making our total donation to The Guest House $500.00.

February – For the month of February, we showed some love to Roots Ethiopia. This is an organization who has the mission of “Supporting community identified solutions for job creation and education in Southern Ethiopia.” We supported them through at-cost production of field bags and hats for a trip to Ethiopia.

“The bags were a delightful way to start off a really meaningful 2 days of work. They set the tone of ‘team’ – and for that I am just deeply grateful,” said Meghan Walsh, the founder of Roots Ethipia.

To read the full blogpost and see pictures of the donated products, please click here.

March – Throughout the past ten years of business, Magellan Promotions has become more involved in higher education, finding ways to use promotional items that will effectively market schools to students, alumni, staff, and the community. We have been attending more and more conferences, including several Association for College Admission Counseling (ACAC) Conferences. Our Wisconsin ACAC has a goal to “help high school and community college students in Wisconsin prepare for collegiate study.” To support this goal, we donated to the WACAC Idea Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to first generation higher education, low-income students in Wisconsin.

April – Hooray for the Earth! We here at Magellan Promotions do everything we can to be environmentally friendly. mke riverkeeperAbout a year and a half ago we transitioned to a primarily paperless office, and we always look for new ways we can keep our world clean.  As part of the Friends of Hank Aaron State Trail and Milwaukee Riverkeeper Earth Day Clean Up, our Magellan crew of six ventured around Miller Park picking up trash and other items not native to nature (such as a whole bike!). Across town, another member of our staff was volunteering at the cleanup at Kletzsch Park. For more photos and information about our spring cleanup, click here.

MayHappy 10th Birthday Magellan Promotions!

Magellan Promotions Staff with 10 year Anniversary Cake

Magellan Staff celebrating 10 years at the Product Showcase.

After 10 years of business, we wanted to recognize a client who has been with us since the beginning and continues to be a great client: The University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. To show our appreciation, we donated to the UWM Foundation, specifically the UWM Outstanding Scholar’s Scholarship Fund.

June – With many different conferences occurring during the summer, we helped out an “Unconference” by donating lanyards and Texas shaped post-it notes. Have you ever heard of an “Unconference”? This trending alternative to the traditional conference has been popping up on our radar for the past two years. The TXwHEART (Texas Women in Higher Education – Acting, Reflecting, Transforming) Unconference focused on topics regarding Women in Higher Education. It is a participant-driven conference that has no set agenda, but rather, participants choose the topics and discuss.

Stay tuned for more Giving Back activities for the remainder of 2015!

2015 Magellan Product Showcase

The 8th Annual Magellan Product Showcase was our BEST event yet! We welcomed a record number of customers and industry partners to our lunchtime event at The Hamilton on Milwaukee’s east side. It was the perfect venue and day to celebrate being in business for ten years with our customers. Everyone enjoyed getting together and checking out new promotional items for their marketing efforts.

Magellan Promotions Staff with 10 year Anniversary Cake

Magellan Staff (Cathy, Elise, Michael, Rachel and Julia) celebrating 10 years at the Magellan Product Showcase.

Ten industry-leading suppliers displayed a wide variety of promotional products. From tech and drinkware, to pens and umbrellas, the event highlighted promotional items for any budget range.  Each attendee received several product samples, which may have included:

  • Kor Vida bottle
  • Charge it Up Power Bank
  • Webkey
  • Mood Magnet
  • Hustle Sports Bag
  • eGrips
  • Consuelo Pen
  • Revolution Umbrella
  • Rope Disc

For links to highlighted products, including the raffle items, please visit our Product Showcase Showroom.  If you have any questions on these products, please let us know.

highlighted promo products

Some of the highlighted products attendees received.

Favorite Products

Based on attendee feedback, several promotional products stood out as guest favorites:

  1. Camelbak water bottles
  2. Infuser water bottles
  3. Web keys
  4. Charging devices
  5. Extended Arm Umbrella

Can you find these products in the pictures below?

wide variety of promo products

So many cool promo products.

Top trends include matte finish on drinkware and pens, growler related items, pet products, technology items, and blender bottles.

Here are a few images taken during the event.



Thank you to all attendees and industry partners for making it a fun, memorable event! It is a pleasure to work with such wonderful people. We can’t wait to host another great Product Showcase next year!


Spring Clean Up to Support Earth Day

As part of Magellan Promotions’ Giving Back Initiative, we participated in spring clean-up activities on Saturday, April 18th.  Along with Friends of the Hank Aaron State Trail and Milwaukee Riverkeeper, our Magellan crew of six ventured around Miller Park area, the largest volunteer site for the event.  In all, over 4000 volunteers would be cleaning up at 50 sites in the area!  Across town Julia Buraczewski volunteered at a clean up at Kletzsch Park.

Here were a few pictures from our day:

Magellan Promotions crew getting reach to clean up the trail

Michael Wolaver and his oldest son (younger son not pictured, but also a helper), Cathy Olig, and Elise Mannebach at Miller Park clean up site.  Photo Credit: Ben Falk

This marked the 20th Anniversary of the River Cleanup for Milwaukee Riverkeepers.  Their main goal is to make rivers fish-able and swim-able. Everyone who volunteered received a t-shirt with a fun design and numerous sponsor logos on the back.  As a promotional products company who runs t-shirts, we ALWAYS recommend t-shirts for volunteer days.  It’s a great way for River Keepers to gain more exposure in the community each time a volunteer wears and re-wears the shirt.

We found this kid's bike in the river!

Can you believe we found THIS in the river?!

As you can imagine, a lot of plastic bags, plastic packaging, and broken glass bottles were found along the trail. In some cases, larger pieces of debris were in and around the river. Our crew noticed a tire sticking out of the edge of the river and realized an entire kid’s bike was in there!  With a few extra hands and some elbow grease, three people pulled THIS out of the river.

Sunny day along the river.

Sunny day along the river.

We’ll have to revisit the trail when everything is in full bloom! It really is a beautiful space – one that we were happy to help clean-up as a small way of giving back.

Let us know if you participate in a spring clean up! Happy Earth Day!

Giving Back: How Roots Ethiopia used Promotional Products

As part of our Giving Back initiative, Magellan Promotions provides monetary donations and creates promotional items at cost to help non-profit organizations stretch their funds to better support their mission.

Roots Ethiopia – an organization that we supported through at-cost production of items – recently shared their story of their field team, who enthusiastically used the field bags and hats that we created. Here is a brief overview of the organization and how these promotional products impacted their work.

Supporting education and job creation in Southern Ethiopia is the main mission of Roots Ethiopia. Learn more about their organization and mission by visiting their website at We have had the pleasure of working with the organization’s founder, Meghan Walsh, who was kind enough to share their story of their recent trip to Ethiopia.

In December2014, Roots Ethiopia sent a team to Ethiopia for training and projects with field partner Meserete Kristos Church’s Hosanna Regional Office. The field team does everything locally, traveling by foot or public bus. Days are long and travel is slow, which makes field bags a desirable item, especially since they are difficult to find locally.

field bag for Roots Ethiopia

Close up of the messenger style bag used.

When Meghan attended the first day of training, they announced that they had these field bags prepared, and the entire crowd of community members cheered. One man even stood up and did a fist pump! Leaders gave 32 community members / field volunteers a bag stuffed with pens, paper, and a memory stick. According to Meghan,

 “The bags were a delightful way to start off a really meaningful 2 days of work! They set the tone of ‘team’ – and for that I am just deeply grateful.”

Roots Ethiopia training session

Images from the training session.

The baseball caps that were ordered at cost were passed out to all of the VIP assistants on the trip -drivers, translators, bag carriers, etc. This was a great way to show appreciation and raise awareness for Roots Ethiopia.

Baseball caps Roots Ethiopia

Imprinted baseball caps for Roots Ethiopia VIP’s

 “Your kindness allowed us to do this without any concerns for quality, and your ability to do this for us at ‘cost’ meant I could rest assured that we were spending funds thoughtfully and in the best spirit of stewardship. It means very much to a small organization like Roots Ethiopia to have your support and encouragement as we grow our program, all the while tending to the bottom line.” – Roots Ethiopia Founder, Meghan Walsh

It was so very rewarding to know that our promotional items were extremely appreciated and put to good use by the Roots Ethiopia organization! Such small things, such as a field bag or baseball cap, can have a much greater meaning and make a big difference, as Meghan described above.

For more stories on how Roots Ethiopia has made a difference for families and children, read about Tsehainesh pictured here.

Roots Ethiopia coffee shop

Did you know coffee can change a life? It did for her!

They are currently raising funds for education. Here are a few pictures from their visit to schools they support with essential learning resources.

Children at a sponsored school

Sweet Smiling faces at a school Roots Ethiopia sponsors


Roots Ethiopia classroom visit

Their field partner strives to make school a reality for many students.

From supporting small business start-ups like Tsehainesh to sending children to school, Roots Ethiopia’s work and mission is truly inspiring. We were happy to play a small part through promotional items used on their trip.

If you’d like to learn more about ways to help Roots Ethiopia, visit

Thanks again to Meghan for sharing their story!

2015 Plans to Give Back

In 2015 we are committed as a company to give back to area charities through a combination of sponsorships, financial donations, and volunteer work each month.   Here’s a recap of our activities in 2014 and a preview of our plans for this year.

September 2014: Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin

Last fall we officially kicked off our monthly charitable giving plan. Our first beneficiary was Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. We used Facebook to run a social media driven donation. For every like and share of our page, we donated $1.00 to CHW. Additionally, Cathy Olig, director of marketing, participated in Al’s Run (actually walking) to further fundraise for CHW. To find out more about how you can help CHW, please visit their website.

Cathy Olig's view of Al's Run 2014.

Cathy Olig’s view of Al’s Run 2014.

October 2014: AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, Panther Prowl

Next month owner Michael Wolaver and his family participated in the AIDS Walk Wisconsin, benefiting the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW). ARCW holds this event every year to make the fight against AIDS stronger. With Tim Gunn as the Honorary Chair this year, they raised $462,425.00 for the fight against AIDS!


Tim Gunn speaking at AIDS Walk Milwaukee

Michael Wolaver’s picture of Tim Gunn speaking at AIDS Walk 2014.

For more information on events and how else you can help fight AIDS, please visit their site.

That same day (!) the Wolaver family also walked in the Panther Prowl, supporting student scholarships at UW Milwaukee. This was their 10th Annual Prowl and a huge success!

Fun with Pounce at UWM's Panther Prowl

Fun with Pounce at UWM’s Panther Prowl.

November 2014: Volunteering at ARCW Food Pantry

In November, we put on our volunteering shoes as a staff and spent a day at the ARCW Food Pantry, putting together Thanksgiving dinners and meal packs for their clients. Every year, this pantry provides more than 400 tons of food to local residents living with HIV/AIDS. Please visit the ARCW site for more information on how to volunteer.

Michael Wolaver sorting food

Michael sorting food for Thanksgiving meal packs.

December 2014: The Hank Fund

We rounded out the year with a holiday donation to the Hank Fund of the Wisconsin Humane Society. This fund was established last spring after the Milwaukee Brewers adopted Hank the dog who had wandered into their practice facility. The fund supports the building of a high quality spay and neuter clinic in Milwaukee. Such a clinic does not currently exist. Donations will also go towards WHS’s goal of rescuing and caring for stray animals in the city of Milwaukee. For those animal lovers who also want to support the Hank Fund, check out the Hank Fund site.

Additional Activities

In addition to our monthly focus activities, we attended a number of non-profit client events and donated our time and services to Roots Ethiopia, an Autism Awareness campaign, and made a financial contribution to a number of different organizations.

Looking Ahead: 2015 Plans

Here are a few of the new charities we will be supporting in 2015:
Guest House of Milwaukee Facebook Contest – for every LIKE or Share of our page, we’ll donate $1.
• Wisconsin Association for College Admission Counseling (WACAC) scholarship fund
Hank Aaron Trail Earth Day Clean Up

Do you have a charity you want us to support? Let us know, and we’ll review to determine how we might be able to help.

5 Best Promotional Products of 2014

As we reflect on the year, we discussed the 5 best promotional products of 2014 with our team. These items were most popular among our clients, personalized and imprinted with their brand for connecting with target audiences. Without further ado, we present the list of trending items for the year:

  1. Phone Wallet: This phone wallet became one of Michael’s favorite new items early in 2014.  He’s used it for several months as his wallet on his iPhone. Our clients agreed with Michael, ordering the phone wallet for promoting their brand. It’s designed to work specifically with iPhones, but would easily adhere to other phones as well. Using a strong, 3M adhesive, the phone wallet is securely attached to the phone and snugly holds cards in place.

    Phone wallet keeps cards and ids snugly in place

    The Phone wallet is a popular tech accessory.

  2. Charge it Up Power Bank: On the go chargers have been a big hit in 2014! We recently wrote a case study about how University of Minnesota Student Unions & Activities used the Charge it Up Power Bank as a prize to encourage student involvement.  This is part of the ever-popular, fast growing tech category of promotional items, which is a clear winner with tech savvy students, staff, and clients.


    The Charge it Up Power Bank easily charges devices on the go.

  3. Texting Gloves: As winter is upon us, we have run numerous orders for texting gloves.  These are a very useful winter accessory that could be worn daily to brave the cold. What an excellent way to showcase your logo!
    Texting Gloves with logo on cuff

    Another tech-related item – texting gloves – have been popular this year.

    action shot texting gloves in use

    We tested the texting gloves at the office. They worked well with our smartphones and kept our hands warm!

  4. Winter Hats: A warm hat is an essential for cold winters! This is one of our favorite, USA made knit hats because of its retro look with the knit-in lettering. Poms are also a fun, trendy feature.

    knit in logo winter hat

    This knit-in logo hat has a retro feel and looks great in school colors.

  5. Spandex Table Cover: This is a new take on an event and college fair essential. The fitted spandex table cover provides a large canvas for full-color wrap imprinting that is bound to stand out at any show. To view the fitted spandex table cover and additional table cover options, visit our event support showroom.

    Spandex full color table cover

    New fitted, spandex table cover has a wrap-around full-color imprint.

Which of the 5 promo items did you like best? Let us know if there is any SWAG you’d add to our Best of 2014 list!

Contact us with any questions or for additional promotional product ideas.

Top Products of NACAC 2014

Mid-September Michael and Paige headed to Indianapolis for the NACAC (National Association for College Admission Counseling) National Conference. The show was a huge success with over 6000 attendees!

In talking with professionals who stopped by our booth, Michael identified promotional products that stood out.  Four popular items, pictured below, related to tech items and social media photo sharing.  Want to view more top promotional products?  Visit our NACAC 2014 Showroom.

Nacac top promo products

A few favorite items in our booth


The DigiClean screen cleaner continues to be a popular item (and is something we have highlighted in this post and this case study). Attendees loved the phone wallets and portable chargers we handed out. The custom frame received a lot of interest too, especially for tying in fun photo sharing with campus tours and admitted student days. Read our case study on the UW-Madison custom frame for more details.

Funnel Art for Web AwarenessAdditional popular case studies for admissions were featured on our booth handout to further illustrate how promotional items can effectively be used throughout each stage of the enrollment funnel to:

Some of our favorite NACAC moments in our booth (besides meeting with so many wonderful admissions professionals) were some surprise visitors!

mascots in booth

From the conference socials to running the 5K, Michael and Paige had an awesome time connecting with and learning from so many schools. Contact Michael to talk about how we can be a marketing resource for your school!

Paige and Michael IUPUI Mascot cropped

Paige & Michael with the IUPUI Mascot

What were your highlights of NACAC 2014?  Let us know what promotional products were your favorites!





Promotional Products Industry – Best Year Ever!

Building upon the success of last year, U.S. Distributors of promotional products had another great year.

2013 sales volume results were up 7.2% to reach $19.8 billion – the best year ever!

This broke the 2007 record of $19.4 billion.

These results were part of an annual estimate of distributor sales sponsored by Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) and conducted by Relevant Insights, LLC.  The study indicated that 6 in 10 of distributors surveyed experienced year over year sales growth.  Almost 7 in 10 of those surveyed anticipate that 2014 will be even stronger than 2013.

Top product categories remained similar from 2012 to 2013 with wearables, or apparel taking the largest share at 28% followed by writing instruments, bags, drinkware, recognition / awards, desk items, and computer accessories.

2013 Promotional Product Industry Sales by Product Category

2013 Promotional Product Industry Sales by Category; SOURCE: PPAI 2013 Estimate of Promotional Products Distributor Sales


Top Uses of Promotional Products

The program types that use promotional items in order of popularity include:

  1. Business Gifts
  2. Brand Awareness
  3. Trade Shows
  4. Employee Relations & Events
  5. New Customer / Account Generation
  6. Not-for-Profit Programs
  7. Public Relations
  8. Employee Service Awards
  9. Dealer / Distributor Programs
  10. Internal Promotions
  11. New Product or Service Introductions
  12. Safety Education
  13. Customer Referral
  14. Marketing Research
  15. Other

Strong Surge in 2013 Sales

Following the industry’s upward trend, Magellan Promotions outperformed the industry’s pace of 7.2% growth, by growing our business 32% over 2012. This growth pattern continues in 2014 as we have surpassed all-time sales records.

“We were thrilled with our record-setting year in 2013 and are on pace to top that in 2014,” said Michael Wolaver.  He credits world class customer service and discovering the right ideas as key drivers for continued success through the years, adding, “We are consistently being complimented on our service and how easy it is to work with us. This has been our goal from day one.”

Such growth has paved the way for building our sales team, as we will be adding a business development role to focus on more outreach to our current and prospective clients.

The industry and company results truly are proof of the power of promotional products as an effective and appreciated advertising medium.

Promotional Products Work

Want to learn more about the year-end numbers for the promotional products industry? Read the 2013 Sales Volume Fact Sheet from PPAI.

A Guided Tour – New Web Features

As I mentioned in our last post, we spent a lot of time re-thinking and re-building our collegiate and corporate website into a new site.  As a quick primer, we wanted to highlight some new web features.

  1. Our blog is no longer just named BLOG; it now goes by The Explorer.  It’s our online catalog with the new tagline: Fresh Ideas Waiting to be Discovered! Keep reading and following along for new promotional marketing ideas, the latest industry and company news, and more insight into the fun world of SWAG.
  2. Idea Galleries – here’s our new “showroom” to display some of our most popular promotional picks. Idea-GalleriesIdeas are grouped by category, so simply mouse over the images to view available categories: New Products, Recognition / Gifts, Eco-Friendly, SWAG, Direct Mail Premiums, and Events.
  3. Product Search – If you know exactly what you’re looking for, you can easily find Product Search on our home page, or click here. Product Search Detail Magellan Promotions
  4. The Idea Explorers – Our “team name” that describes the creative idea-storming we do to discover the right promotional item for you.  We love idea-storming for projects with a few key details. When you’re stumped for a great idea, give the Idea Explorers a call!

    Magellan Team at the Idea Phone

    We are racing to answer your call for new ideas!

  5. Case Study Library –  Under “Resources” you’ll find our Case Study Library featuring both corporate and collegiate success stories.  Peruse these pages to learn more about promotional marketing that makes an impact.
  6. Promotional Products Work – Want facts and data to support promotional marketing? Visit the Promotional Products Work area. Promotional Products Work

Are you finding your way around?  Let us know what you think of the new site by commenting below.