In the winter of 2010, 23rd & 5th was closing out its first year of business, and as is customary with many businesses, we felt the need to assemble a client gift, as it was a monumental year for us. Having a background in advertising, I was well aware of the elaborate and expensive items traditionally given to clients to say “Thanks.” We were doing something different, though, and also as a bootstrapped startup didn't have thousands of dollars to shell out on one-off gifts. We wanted something that connected to our mission and also reflected back to a message of thanks.
At that moment, the Give Small Campaign was born. We quickly assembled a list of 150; clients, people with whom we wanted to do business, community members, and friends. Over the next few days I personally sent out a $10 or $5 bill to each person with one simple message: Please donate to a cause that you're passionate about. The response was tremendous. We received personal notes from over 65% of our list, and our initial funds were tripled by 70% of their recipients. The funds went near and far, to a range of non-profits doing great work. In early 2011, I had the opportunity to speak on the matter at Ignite Newark. Above are a few slides from that talk.
It turns out giving small is easy. And the results are tangible. They are meals, clothing, staffing volunteers at a suicide call center, vet care, theatre, arts organizations, and putting veterans back to work. So… the next time you find a spare $5, or $10, give it to a cause you care about. And be prepared to create your own story.