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Cookie Flavors – Corporate Giving on a Micro-Scale

By Amy Nielsen

I am beat. I spent all day yesterday cooking up nine and a half dozen cookies to sell at a bake sale today. I held the bake sale at our local community, monthly fundraiser Flea Market. The bake sale is part of a summer campaign for a large national not-for-profit started by a guy I think is really cool.

I have been searching for ways my business could support a few specific niche organizations that give back to my local, national, and global communities. I believe in putting your money where your mouth is and supporting organizations doing the work you get paid to do for those who can’t afford you. If that means volunteering as the Veterinarian on the Neuter Scooter if you are a Vet, or participating in the weekly Poker Runs wearing your business golf shirt, or planning a day a month to pick up trash in town with other area professionals. It means participating in Rotary or going to the Shrine Rodeo. It means participating in the charity work your business participates in.

The point is there are lots of ways in which to give back using your professional status. Yes, you. You have professional status if you operate a business no matter how small. Take pride in being able to give back even just a little bit, even if it is just you, your time, and your business name.

Earlier this year I started holding an information booth about topics in my field at the local Flea Market. This particular Flea Market is hosted by several town somebodies to support each-other’s community giving organizations. The first month our booth fees and 50 percent of the fifty-fifty raffle went to help buy the Firehouse equipment and this month the funds went to our new animal shelter. The vendors who participate are a mix of the textures of our rolling hills and back country crags. All and sundry stuff can be found from toothpaste to tires to our town lawyer selling her husband’s Harley at her yard sale.

Recently I received an email from a national, professional, not-for-profit organization I have belonged to since I went to culinary school. It detailed the summer fundraising campaign. The campaign is a national bake sale to raise funds to help feed hungry kids.

BINGO! I teach health and wellness education with a focus on kids. This was a perfect match and I knew exactly where to hold the bake sale; at the monthly community Junk in the Trunk.

Today was a very successful day. While we didn’t sell out of cookies, we did make a right smart penny to remit. Many would consider our total paltry, not even breaking three figures, but for our community that is a bang up haul. I made as much in cookie money as the fifty-fifty raffle donated to the animal shelter.

Seeing as we have a few bags of cookies left, I promptly sent out a Facebook missive to my Tribe about extra cookies. Within ten minutes, all but four bags are spoken for by far flung friends with promises of donations including shipping via the donation link I posted. GEESH but I love technology.

Charitable giving is easy these days. It is as simple as googling your profession. Someone somewhere has started a 501(c)3 for underwater basket weavers and you too can join to help your fellow artisans spread awareness. Paypal,, and so many others are out there to make simple to create a campaign, target an audience, and collect funds.

Specifically because it is so easy to produce a slick professional looking campaign, it is also equally important to look carefully into the charitable organization you are putting your hard earned dollars, your limited time, and your professional reputation behind. There are many tools to be able to check out a purported not-for-profit, the first being ask to see a copy of their charitable organization paperwork. If they can’t produce it or they are too small to have it, perhaps think about a larger organization for the first community project you do.

Some of the organizations I support are only loosely tied to my profession and others are directly supportive. The breadth of those organizations helps to define my business’ place in the larger professional sphere. It is some of what helps set me apart from my peers. Who and what a business supports what tell you about the soul of a business rather than the practice of the business.

So as you are building your business start thinking about what you want to support and why. Do you want to support the organization on a professional level because it ties well with your mission or perhaps it is better to support from a personal level? I feel it is important to participate professionally inasmuch as possible on a local, reginal, national, and global scale. We are all on this one marble together and it behooves us to act as such by participating.

I hear you out there; but I don’t have time to donate time to anyone else but my burgeoning business. I can’t make my cash flow let alone give any of it to anyone else.  I am too small a fish to join a global pond. No, you are not. Every big fish started out as a small fish. So seek out who and what you want to support and join those organizations.

I sincerely believe that grace, gratitude and abundance beget grace, gratitude and abundance. By which I mean, if one is sincerely grateful and abundantly give of that which they have to give, that grace and abundance will return in due time. Using ones business clout to support others gives a business depth and deeper purpose and in the end I feel makes them more successful because they are more connected to the pulse of the local, regional and global field.

Anyone want some cookies?

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