I know I’ve talked about this before, but giving is at the core of this company (Click here for a refresher).
To touch on it again, as I was getting out of the Marine Corps, I wanted to start a company that was sustainable and would make the lives of others better. That is my, “why” or at least a close to my why as I could get using words. For those of you whom have read Simon Sinek’s book, understand what I’m going on about. Having spent the past 5 years giving my time and body in service to the greatest nation on earth, reinforced this need to continue the trend of giving. And so in addition to pledging our inventory dollars to partner with Fair Trade Certified, I also wanted to start an internally managed program that would maintain the current company trajectory. This brings us to the Corporate Fellowship Program (CFP). Now, I realize I’m no genius in implementing a program like this. If nothing else, I’ve simply collected ideas from other great companies with an applied emotional affirmation. But, I’m proud of it (execution is everything!), and so far this program has done good things. The CFP is manifested in a few different ways…
Latte’s of Love
Latte’s of Love (LOL) has been a wildly successful program that I am seriously proud of! The implementation of LOL was fairly quiet. The motivation behind this was to be unambiguous about giving. Maybe it was because of how I was raised, but I was taught that giving (if done from the heart) is done in silence. And so, I made a small 1 page stand up that I would display at farmers markets and later at our shops, detailing it. Essentially what we do with this program is that we donate 22% (because 22 veterans commit suicide per day on average) of the gross revenue from all latte sales to a high value charity. The charity rotates monthly. In order to be a charity in which we donate to, the charity must have ultra low to no overhead costs…they’re out there, I promise! This program is still in affect, but has dwindled as our shops are less likely to serve lattes, as we are in a high outgoing commuter area, as opposed to farmers markets. The difference being that the patrons at our farmers markets are more likely to have time to spend in waiting for a latte. BUT, in April (when we re-start our farmers market attendance) we will donate the value of latte sales from the offseason (November-April) to a high value charity. Subsequently, we post a receipt (on Facebook) after the month in which donations are gathered.
Employee Volunteerism Sponsorship
I’m not certain about where I’ve read about this before, but I loved the concept. With this program we sponsor an employee to volunteer their time at any charity of their choosing. In doing so, we would pay them $20 per hour for 2 hours of their time, monthly. Our hope with this program is that we can give the nudge for our employees to get out there and give back to their community, in any medium that they see fit. And in return, we’ll compensate them. Although the monetary value may not be a lot, its a solid return for something they are already involved with, and (more importantly) a way for us to give a quick thank you for giving back to the community. They like it, we love it, and it has paid off in solid karma points! Truly, thats all that matters to us.
In building a business, smart financial decisions are a must. Although giving during the building phase may seem counter productive, building a company culture with a feel-good impression is what smart and passionate clientele are looking for. Its a rough, cruel world out there. If we can take some of the edge off, not only will our clientele continue to enable us, but we will better maintain happy employees.