Since the spring of 2023, we’ve been keeping a little secret.
Not intentionally, but we’ve been giving back to nonprofits to do the work of justice in their communities. It felt funny to say, “look at us giving back”, but it’s time to silence our inner critics to talk about why this is so important to us.
We didn’t say anything because it feels a bit arrogant in the era of “give back” companies. You know, the companies who get you to buy their chocolate bar, shoes, stationery, just because it says they give clean water or school supplies to communities in need?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful for companies that do this well, and work directly with communities and not just shipping airplanes of shoes.(Just google this!”)
But that’s just not who we are. We’re a family owned business and I want the nonprofits we support to be as close to the ground as possible.
That’s why we’re focusing on one big non-profit and one small non-profit focused in a community that is actively doing the work to bring justice in big & small ways.
There is no “Chief of Giving Back” that interviews, researches and calculates “impact” before making a donation. It’s just me. That’s why it makes sense that our criteria just be one big and one small. It’s easy for me to remember.
One quarter, giving might go to a nationwide literacy organization and the next to a local Pride Center supporting LGTBQ+ & Trans teens. It could be in response to gun violence against schools, the war battling on in the Ukraine or the fires that destroyed the communities of Hawaii.
We, because I like to think I work and give on behalf of my family, want to be responsive to the world around us while also paying attention to small communities.
Speaking of small things, we recently made a donation for $25.
I know, I know, it doesn’t seem like much, but I wanted to respond to a book I’d read and the donation to say, “I see you. I’ve heard your story. It’s not something for movie rights or acclaim. It was real life for you and I want to honor you by saying thank you for sharing your story and opening my eyes to your community.”
I did what I do well, and I wrestled for weeks.
“Maybe if we have more sales come in I can give more.”
“Is $25 even worth giving?”
And then I sat back and remembered the feeling of each $25 order that comes my way. The gratitude that swells, how I audibly say “Thank you” and the feeling that I’m not alone in this work.
If a $25 order could do that for me, then it could do that for someone else.
Or even how I talk on and on about not consuming knowledge, but doing something with it. Responding. It was my time to respond.
Here’s the thing, at the end of the day, I can’t be about the work without accountability (that’s you), but also I can’t ask you to do what I’m not willing to do myself.
A lot of that boils down to giving sacrificially, and not just when something is trending or convenient (hello Girl Scout cookies outside the grocery store), but instead to give in a way that says, “My heart aligns with this and this is who I want to be.”
I once heard this definition of allyship as being willing to risk something of value. It’s not just standing shoulder to shoulder, making noise on behalf of an issue, but the risk of something. Anything. Reputation. “Peace” with your relatives. Flex money in the bank account. Uncertainty in dialogue. It could be anything, but often I think we’re only willing to give what feels comfortable.
And in this season of business in which the orders aren’t flowing in like a mighty rushing river, donating felt hard and uncomfortable.
But, I’m leaning into being an ally that’s willing to sacrifice and to give in a way that says, this might strap me financially for a minute, but what I have I can give. Today, that’s $25.
We’re going to keep giving back because it’s who we are and who we want to be.
In this with you,