Looking back on that past year with the Sisu Coffee Project, at first glance I’m not surprised there is an awesome community behind our business that have stepped up to answer the call and support this project. Then the more I think about it, I’m kind of amazed that to date we have given out almost $20,000 to members in our community that have a need.
About the Project
If you’re not familiar with the Sisu Coffee Project, it’s a project that Java Moose, Hoaglund Designs and Fika Coffee started in the spring of 2020. After seeing many immediate needs of the people in our county going unmet, we wanted to create a community project to help people during periods of their lives when a little extra support was needed. If you'd like, you can read more about it HERE.
Things That Stand Out
We began the project with the goal of selling 3,000 bags of coffee and raising $30,000 to gift to the community. As we near our goal (we have only 40 bags of the 3,000 left), the two things that stand out to me with this project are: one, the method we have chosen to raise the money, and secondly, the flexibility we have to give the money out.
A New Approach
As a business we often get lots of requests from other organizations and groups. This usually comes in forms of either products or cash. Though I want to support them all, it hasn’t felt sustainable. I have struggled with most of the processes I have created to figure out how to meet all the donation requests and how to discern which causes to support and which ones aren't aligned with our business.
A Sustainable Way Forward
However, this project has proven to be a creative alternative that feels much more sustainable. With this project I think it’s very important that it did not cost us a lot of time or money our of our pocket since the cost of the coffee and labor to produce it was covered in the retail price. Plus, there was a slight margin for each business to take. But the lion’s share of it went directly to the project and needs. So it made it an easy “yes” to that aspect of the project - it keeps all of us “in business”. This factor is a big one in allowing this project to continue if we decide to...and maybe even encourage/challenge other businesses to follow suit with us.
The second aspect that I appreciated was the flexibility we had with giving the money to others. This piece was just amazing and crucial to the success we have seen come from the project so far. It’s so very simple and there is no “red tape” to go through. When a donation request came to us, we would just send out a group text between the three of us (Sarah from Java Moose, Hannah from Hoaglund Designs and me, Josh, from Fika) with details about the request. We would all give our thumbs up, share any thoughts that came up and then we delivered the money right away. There was no timeline, no application for folks to fill out, and no board meeting we had to wait for to vote on. We also had a wide range of requests, but it all felt very simple, clean and helpful.
Requests came in from a number of places: the Sisu Coffee Project website, word of mouth, and through the County Services. We are grateful for the unique communications and requests that came through County Services because it offered us an opportunity to be able to help others where financial resources were not already available elsewhere.
To keep things clean throughout the process, we did our due diligence and gave the money directly to a business whenever possible. For example, if someone need “x” amount of money to cover a mortgage payment we would cut the check right to the entity that the payment due to. Or, if someone needed a car repair, we paid the mechanic directly.
As I mentioned earlier, we don’t have many bags left (so if you want to grab one before they’re gone, you might want to do it now). As of today, we have sold about 2,960 bags and raised $29,600 dollars. Of those funds raised, we have gifted $19,591.06 to immediate needs of the community, with two other project requests in the works.
Donated money has been used to:
- Assist in buying a car
- Purchase 43 - $100 gift certificates to Johnson's Food to help local families and individuals buy groceries
- Outfit children with warm winter gear
- Pay a past due mental health bill
- Pay a portion of a medical bill
- Assist with some school and tutoring costs
- Pay electricity bills
- Pay overdue mortgage and rent payments
- Fill a propane tank
- Purchase clothing
- Cover partial roofing costs
- Cover insurance premiums
- Purchase lunch boxes and school supplies
After the remaining coffee is sold, we plan on taking a little break from the project. We’ll take some time to reflect on the project and see what will come next.
Thank you all for helping with this project. Your support has been inspiring and humbling.
Now, let's finish strong and knock this closing out of the park!
Get your Sisu Coffee HERE.