Originally posted in the Monadnock Shopper News
About six years had passed since my last eye exam. I knew I needed new glasses, but I put off scheduling an exam for a host of reasons. What finally motivated me to make an appointment: “The Twelve Days of Christmas” holiday giving promotion at EyeWorks in Keene. I got my exam and bought new glasses — while a local nonprofit received $25 of that sale from EyeWorks.
What motivated me is not unique. Many people consider business practices, like charitable giving, when choosing what and where to buy. Unfortunately, our perception of who is doing the giving is oftentimes skewed.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses give more time and money to nonprofits than larger companies, donating twice as much per employee to charitable organizations.
Monadnock Buy Local set out to better understand how our locally owned businesses collectively give back. We partnered with two of our members, the Monadnock United Way and the Saving Bank of Walpole, to demonstrate how much our members give.
The Monadnock United Way calculated that Monadnock Buy Local members collectively donated over $160,000 to MUW’s fundraising campaign this year — a campaign to raise $2,019,912 to help 27 local nonprofits. On December 1st, also known as Giving Tuesday, The Savings Bank of Walpole placed a full-page advertisement in our local daily newspaper to promote this dollar amount and the message that supporting locally owned businesses increases charitable giving in our community. We look forward to increasing that amount of giving in 2016.
We also continue to document examples of locally owned businesses giving back this holiday season and throughout the year. Here are three examples.
Monadnock Food Co-op
This fall, the community-owned Monadnock Food Co-op in Keene donated 240 pounds each of green beans, butternut squash and green peppers to the Southwestern Community Services (SCS) Head Start Early Sprouts Program in Keene. Kids in the Early Sprouts Program explore different vegetables throughout the year. As they learn about a vegetable, they bring some of that newly introduced vegetable home to cook and share with their family.
The Co-op is also offering a “Round Up” program through December. Co-op shoppers can choose to round up their transaction to the nearest dollar and their change is donated to The Community Kitchen in Keene. As of December 29, the Co-op collected $7,398.44 dollars through this program — and the giving continues through December 31!
“We are really excited to support the great work of both the SCS Head Start program and the Community Kitchen — among many other donations we provide year round throughout our community,” shared Michael Faber, General Manager of the Co-op. “These two organizations are doing amazing work for our community and its critical that we all support their efforts.”
Fenton Family Dealerships
We shine our second member spotlight on The Fenton Family Dealerships that, together with their employees, supported over 75 local charities and organizations this year. Their annual community-wide Food Drive collected five thousand pounds of food and personal care items (and they are currently holding an internal food drive to collect more) and their golf tournament raised over $35,000 for The Community Kitchen.
This level of giving earned Fenton Family Dealerships “The Spirit of Monadnock Award” from the Monadnock United Way this year. This award is “reserved for the organization and its employees who best exemplify the spirit of our region through a culture of strong commitment, positive attitude and demonstration of continued broad-based support for the community and the Monadnock United Way.” Congratulations to Fenton Family Dealerships!
“Giving back to the community is something that Fenton Family Dealerships has believed in from its inception nearly 30 years ago,” said Bob Swartz, CEO of Fenton Family Dealerships. “We give back to the people and community that help support us.”
Deep Roots Massage
Our final charitable giving highlight is Deep Roots Massage in Keene. This holiday season, they are donating 10% of all gift certificate sales to the Monadnock United Way. Last year, this program raised $5,000. Annually, Deep Roots donates 2% of their sales to local nonprofits dedicated to heath, human services and the arts.
There are many more charitable giving efforts led by our members, but also keep in mind that donations are just the beginning of what our locally owned business give back.
“Local merchants are more than providers of goods and services,” states Stacy Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self Reliance. “They often take a leadership role in community affairs. Many chair neighborhood organizations, host cultural events, or organize local festivals.”
Before we wrap up this last article of the year, I want to thank you all for giving more this year, both in terms of your own charitable giving and spending more of your dollars at locally owned businesses. Thank you and happy New Year!