Charitable giving

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With March 1st just around the corner, it’s almost time to review all of the applications we’ve received for donations for the period from April 1st to June 30th. Almost as soon as we opened, we started receiving letters and emails requesting donated cupcakes and gift cards for everything from sports teams’ year end parties to major charities’ Walks and Runs to numerous United Way campaigns – all great causes and all requests we wanted to say “yes” to. And so we did say “yes”- to 1 dozen here, four dozen there, a gift bag here …you get the idea. We were continually receiving, thinking about, replying to, organizing and handing out small donations.

The Prairie Girl Bakery Supporting Our Community Program

After about a year of this, I realized that although the team at PGB was donating a lot of cupcakes, we weren’t really making much of an impact at any particular event or for any cause, and we were spending a lot of time doing it. So I decided on some goals for a giving back program and eventually came up with  the Prairie Girl Bakery Supporting Our Community Program. You can see it posted on our website under “Giving Back”. The goals were:

– Organize the process so that a number of applications can be reviewed and compared at once – we landed on four times a year

– Involve the team in the review process – each quarter I invite people to receive copies of all the applications and make their personal selections and indicate their reasons…often the team of 4 or 5 people reviewing the quarter’s applications have very similar views

– Look for applications that reflect causes close to the hearts of either PGB team members (such as animal well-being!!) or some of our best customers.

– Provide a donation that really makes a difference for the charity or group, for example, providing a lot of cupcakes to encourage people to sign up for something, or sending one of  our cupcake towers along with 25 dozen minis to a gala fashion show.

By way of example as to how the program works, for the 1st quarter of 2014 we received 12 excellent applications and selected the following:

1. The Well Dressed for Spring Fashion Show presented by the Wellspring Cancer Support Foundation in partnership with Women in Caoital Markets- February 24, 2014. We will be providing 25 dozen mini cupcakes for this event.

2. 50/50 and Raffle Draw in support of the Horizons for Youth emergency shelter – we will be providing up to 25 dozen minis between January 15th and 31st to encourage people to buy tickets.

3. Annual Gala & Auction of the Canadian Film Centre on February 5th- we will be working with their group to provide either cupcakes for the event or a silent auction prize.

The PGB Supporting Our Community Program has been running for over a year now – we made one change to it recently and that was to remove the standard 25 dozen mini donation – some groups just don’t want or need that much, and some want or need more. I think the program is an improvement over the haphazard approach we took in Year 1 both for our customers actively involved in charitable activities and for the business. Applicants now have guidelines as to how to apply for a significant donation  and as a business, we are able to make more meaningful decisions about our donations in a way that involves anyone on the team interested in this aspect of what we do.

About the author

Jean Blacklock

Jean is the president of Toronto's best cupcake and cake bakery - Prairie Girl Bakery. Read more about her background in commerce, law, and entrepreneurship here.

By Jean Blacklock

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