Giving Back Through Storytelling: The Power of the Corporate Megaphone
Aug 20 2018
Sitting on a scaffolding, my legs dangling toward the ground, I watched with pride members of our Deluxe team measuring, hammering and laughing together as we sided a garage while volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. Giving back to a cause we believe in brings us not only closer together, but it furthers the mission that companies large and small can be a driving force for change in our society.
For the past few years, I’ve presented to groups and conferences across the country on my personal platform of “Doing Well by Doing Good.” Essentially, I believe deep down that companies and individuals can do better for themselves by focusing good deeds on those in need. Companies and corporations in particular don’t always have to be zeroed in on profits without the ability to see how their efforts can still be good for others.
When Deluxe launched the Small Business Revolution in 2015, we make a conscious effort to shine a spotlight on the small businesses that help drive growth in America. Yes, we created a branding campaign to let the public know how Deluxe has helped support small businesses for more than 100 years. But it has always been about more than a branding campaign.
Why can’t a corporate branding campaign have the secondary focus of helping others achieve success? The answer is that it can.
This October, we launch the third season of Small Business Revolution – Main Street, showcasing six new small businesses and the amazing community of Alton. Yes, how Deluxe products and services can transform a small business are featured. And yes, while doing so we help six businesses that are struggling to survive, giving them a lifeline to future prosperity.
I’ve never lost my passion for ensuring that in all of our efforts, we are changing the lives of these small business owners. Yet in Alton this year, I was struck even harder by the stakes involved in being a small business owner and how any help can go so far.
Brad Chavours is co-owner of Lovett’s Soul Food in Alton. The business is a labor of love for him and his mother, Merry Lovett. Yet while Merry works a second job, Brad is in the business each day, every day, “10 toes down, seven days a week,” as he says.
When you realize the hours Brad works, and you hear that he is a cook, the cashier, the delivery driver, the cleaner and the face of the business, you become exhausted yourself. It hits you the burden he must face. Hearing how long and how hard he works, you can understand why he hasn’t fixed the broken front window or the leather tear in the booth. You can understand why he hasn’t searched for a new fridge to replace the one that is too small right now. You understand why he sometimes can’t answer the phone, losing that to-go order.
Then you listen to Brad and your perspective is completely changed again.
“When I get tired, I just think about how my grandfather told us he used to pick cotton 18 hours a day as a kid,” Brad said. “So you know, I can push through this. Why wouldn’t I put blood, sweat and tears into this?”
Even without being part of our series, it is critically important to shine a light on a business owner like Brad. People should know him, celebrate him and understand what this restaurant means to him. He isn’t just selling food, he’s honoring his grandfather’s name and his family’s name. Success isn’t just about money and stability, it is about ensuring that he lives up to the ideal long established by his mother, his grandfather and the rest of the Lovett’s family.
I’ve talked often about the fact that many small business owners live check to check or minute to minute. I was reminded that many times in Alton. Brad himself said he goes months without being paid and has had only three days off in three years. But he doesn’t complain, because he just thinks of the hardships his grandfather endured, so of course, he can endure this.
Every day we approach people and we have no idea what they are going through. They may be carrying burdens we will never know. Taking a peak behind the curtain and seeing for a short time the battles a small business owner goes through is the gift that the Small Business Revolution brings to millions around the country. Furthering our mission of wanting to share our products and services with small business owners is one aspect of what we do. Helping communities is another. Helping individuals is one more.
Like any other large corporation, our people give back to deserving charities like Habitat for Humanity. We give back in donations to those in need. And through our corporate megaphone, we are able to help fulfill the dreams of small business owners who otherwise we’d never know.
At Deluxe we are finding ways to do different things in the community. It helps us, it helps businesses, it helps provide a glimpse into how we can all share in that focus.
Aug 13, 2018
In addition to being a nationally renowned chef, Deborah VanTrece is a certified “badass” – seriously, just ask Zagat. She has been redefining soul food in Atlanta for 20 years, and as an entrepreneur, she has also fostered lasting brands and helped start a national conversation about diversity in the culinary world. Below, she dives into lessons about developing a brand, advice she’s received throughout her career, and the importance of philanthropy for restaurateurs.