Your Business and You: Be Creative in Your Giving

by Ken Mueller on December 16, 2011 · 3 comments

Pile of gorgeous gifts

Image via Wikipedia

Last week I posted a contest here that was part of an effort to urge people to support their small, independently owned local businesses. I honestly believe that this is the best way to kickstart the economy, while finding unique gifts for your friends and family. The contest runs through noon today (12-16-11) so there is still time to enter, with more than $2200 worth of prizes/gifts up for grabs. Enter now!

As we head into the final stretch for the holidays, I’d like to encourage you to really think about what it means to give. My favorite types of gifts are the ones that actually give something back. They benefit more than just the recipient. Previously I’ve talked about businesses like TOMS Shoes and Walk in Love that not only sell quality products, but are also involved in social good.

Whether you are purchasing gifts for friends and family, or for customers, clients, and employees of your business, please consider a gift that is more than just a fruit basket or gadget. I have a few suggestions for you to consider as they are projects and clauses close to my heart. But these are just ideas, and I know that you can find causes and projects in your own backyard that would be meaningful to both you and the recipient. But if not, please consider supporting one or more of these:

Help Tell an Important Story

This is the most time sensitive of the projects because the deadline for funding is only a few days away. My friend Andi Cumbo is nearing the end of a Kickstarter campaign to fund a book she is writing called, You Will Not Be Forgotten. Andi is researching and writing the stories about the individuals who were enslaved on the Virginia plantation on which she was raised. She’s told a few of these stories on her blog, and they are fascinating. These are stories that need to be preserved and told. I, for one, want to read this book.

But Andi still needs to raise about $5,000 by Monday morning (December 19, 2011). By giving to this project in someone’s name you’re not only getting a gift (based on your level of donation), but you’re supporting creativity and history.

Help Fund a Cure

This is a new one for me. Recently my online social network connected me with a local woman who has an incredible passion. You see, my friend Jackie has a son, Erik, who suffers from Phelan-McDermid Syndrome. What’s that? Well, in layman’s terms, it is a form of autism. There are at least 8,000 children with this condition in the U.S. alone.

Now here’s the cool part: researchers have pretty much isolated the cause. Without getting all scientific, it has to do with damage to a specific chromosome. If you’re interested in more, you can read more in this blog post over at Autism Speaks. And in isolating the cause, researchers now believe they are very close to an actual cure. What makes this even more exciting is that the treatment for this will also lead to treatments in several other types of Autism, Alzheimer’s, types of epilepsy and other rare disorders. But what’s really needed now is funding in order to advance the research and clinical trials. Can you imagine if there was a treatment…a cure…for not only certain types of autism, but also Alzheimer’s and epilepsy?

Even cooler, you can be a part of all this. Jackie has made it her personal goal to raise $200,000 to help keep the research moving forward. Consider contributing to her First Giving campaign for Phelan-McDermid Syndrome as a gift to someone else, particularly if you know someone whose life has been affected by autism or Alzheimer’s.

Help Feed the Hungry

On the local level, I’m sure you have some sort of rescue mission or homeless shelter in your area. For me, that is Water Street Ministries (disclosure: client). This time of year is particularly important, and yet difficult, for organizations like Water Street. Not only are they dealing with trying to find housing for the homeless at the coldest time of year, but also feeding them and providing some sort of Christmas for families that might not be able to afford anything.

As of now, Water Street is behind last year’s food donations by about 75,000 pounds, and they have a lot of mouths to feed for Christmas (and every other day). Additionally, they still need about $1.5-million to finish out their Fall campaign.

Please consider a donation of either food or money (or even some of your time) to Water Street, or whatever organization is working with the homeless in your particular area. They are doing a great service to your community.

Here’s a video featuring my friend Maria who explains more about Water Street and their needs:


Help Give Someone the Key to a New Life

I’ve blogged about this before, but I might as well mention it again. My friend Shonali recruited me to be a part of the Blue Key campaign of USA for UNHCR. There are more than 43-million refugees who have been displaced from their homes as the result of war. These people need a chance, and you can help.

For just $5 you can purchase a blue key and help them reach the goal of selling 6,000 keys by the end of the year. If you look over at the widget in the right sidebar, you’ll see that they need to sell fewer than 500 keys by the end of the year. That is an incredibly attainable goal. The key makes a great reminder of all that we have, and all that others don’t have. You can wear it as a pendant or use it as an ornament on your Christmas tree. And at $5 a pop, they make great (and meaningful) gifts for employees or clients.


These are just a few of the causes and projects about which I’m passionate. I would love if you would support one or more of them as you consider your year end giving. But it’s not just about the giving. Believe me, I understand what it means to have limited funds and not be able to give. While you might not be able to give financially, you all have the ability to give in other ways.

Each of the causes and projects I mention can be shared. Online. Share them on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn and let those in your social network know about them. Awareness is one of the strengths of Social Media so take time to share. And if you have a blog, perhaps you can donate a post to a cause and write about something that is near and dear to you.

Support creativity. Support local causes. Invest in the lives of others.

In what ways do you give that benefit more than just the recipient of the gift? How are you supporting local and global causes and projects this holiday season?


Previous post:

Next post: