Corporate Philanthropy with an Exponential Twist

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While it’s not uncommon for companies to donate to charities, Gold Coast Coffee, which equips and supplies office breakrooms throughout South Florida, is scaling up the concept. In a new initiative, CEO-founder Tim Myette is offering to donate 10 percent of each client’s invoice to the client’s charity of choice in that client’s name. He also plans to enlist his distributors of office breakroom products across the U.S. to implement the same program. In this way, he envisions hundreds, and potentially thousands, of companies large and small giving up to 10 percent of their income to charity.

“The government is not going to be able to solve all the problems of everyone but as Americans we are very much a giving nation and giving people,” says Tim, who serves on the board of directors of two South Florida nonprofits. “So Gold Coast Coffee has decided that we are going to get much more involved in the community, not just physically but financially. We see that as the future of helping our neighbors and helping the community which will again make our country strong.”

What would prompt such benevolence now, after 35 years of business success? A deathbed conversation with his mentor. “I’d been thinking about the idea for about five years when I had a very dear friend, a local pioneer-father of the area, pass away,” Tim says, “But before he passed away I had the greatest opportunity to sit and talk with him about many things. I asked him many, many questions about this [idea] and he inspired me. With my burning desire to do something, and the answers to some of the questions I asked him, it even made it more powerful to me to go forward and decide that this is something that Gold Coast Coffee just has to do.

“My mother used to have a great statement: ‘Remember that the hearse doesn’t have a trailer hitch.’ No matter what you do you can’t take it with you. So if you’re going to do anything good you better do it while you have the opportunity to do it. That’s part of my decision.”

With an urgent resolve to propel his idea forward, Tim hired Diane Singh, former Executive Director of the Florida Association of Nonprofits, to serve as his new Senior Director of Nonprofit Outreach. “She’s already reaching out to her many contacts, and the response has been phenomenal,” Tim says. “I have had the privilege of going with her to a very small account and the next thing I know they’re not even talking about coffee; they’re talking about children and about what are we going to do for this and what are we going to do for that. It’s awe-inspiring to me to see the client get involved — and passionately!”

What inspired Diane to take on this new role? “My passion for nonprofits,” she says. “I see how hard the nonprofits work and where their desires are and what they’re trying to do in the community… They have a lot of need and this could be an Innovative way for them to have some of those needs met.” Diane says she wants the company to be seen “as a coffee service that gives back, supporting nonprofits with every cup.”

Tim sees dramatic potential in this program, especially if it were to be adopted by the greater business community. “I think we’ve hit a nerve,” he says. I think we’re just tapping into something that is probably going to be quite large. I would suggest to you that we’re probably looking at a multitude of dollars, perhaps into, not only the high millions, but even the billions. I think that money is going to be made readily available to bona-fide [nonprofit] organizations.”

Tim hopes to inspire other companies to follow Gold Coast Coffee’s lead. “Maybe we can wake up a company that makes, I don’t know, plastic boats, or fire extinguishers, or chairs. …All these companies, they’re not as big and bad as everybody would like to think businesses are. I think we have to be educating people that there are a lot of good companies out there doing a lot of dynamite things.

“I think you guys [at Conscious Capitalism Florida] have a lot of responsibility,” Tim adds. “You’ve got to get the word out there. I hope you can get more companies involved….We should have meetings with businesses to talk about things that we can do. The Chamber of Commerce is not going to take up the gauntlet for that — not that they don’t do some good things, they certainly do…but their objective is not the same as my objective. My objective is to give out money.”