These days it is increasingly difficult to experience a “wow” moment where you hear of a company or an idea that catches your attention and leaves an impression.
The memorable, unique and get-you-talking ideas will stick with and inspire you.
At a work meeting in San Francisco, I met Scott Tanksley, founder of an Atlanta-based non-profit, Meals With A Mission. His startup company is truly a newborn organization, having been founded this year!
The meeting had 100+ attendees and for dinner one evening, we were divided into small groups to “dine about” in restaurants all over the city. We had a mission. Each person selected a cause beforehand and presented it over dinner. Then, each group voted on the cause they wanted to support as a team. Our company donated money to each of the “winning” causes. It was fabulous fun and a truly enlightening way to change the conversation.
Meals With A Mission enables and expedites the process (so you don’t have to chase people down for their money) and makes your next get-together (with family, friends, colleagues) the perfect incubator to change the conversation to “Where can we support good work or meet needs in our community?” Everyone donates the same amount and brings a cause to share. And together, you decide what to support.
I was so moved by Scott’s idea and his company. There is a lot of good to be done and Meals With A Mission is an accelerator that provides a better, bigger and bolder way for people to come together and do some good. I did this exercise with colleagues and by the end of our Meals With A Mission dinner, I wanted to bear hug everyone, which is highly unusual for a work event. I can only imagine how gratifying this would be with friends or family.
Here are some ideas on how to join the Meals With A Mission movement:
- At your next supper club, have everyone bring a charity or cause they are passionate about and a dollar amount per person to donate. It doesn’t have to be a “cause”. It can be an individual. Some of the ones selected during my experience were individuals, such as a neighbor who has lost their job or a friend whose family is struggling to pay medical bills for an illness. Meals With A Mission can make the donation anonymous if the person could be uncomfortable receiving help.
- You could do this at work like I did. Many work groups across our company are doing this with money from our company’s foundation.
- Some of my colleagues are doing this as part of their upcoming holiday meals with their families.
Here’s a refresher on the process (their site has everything you need):
1. Invite your friends, neighbors or co-workers to a meal.
2. With the invite, ask everyone for an equal donation AND to bring a cause. You pick the amount – $20, $50, $100.
3. After the meal, give everyone 2-3 minutes to share their cause. Could be a person in need, a local non-profit, or a dream to fund.
4. The group votes and leading vote-getter wins the entire donation.
Remember the story about the little boy and the thousands of stranded starfish? For hours, the little boy walked on the beach and tossed starfish back into the surf, one starfish at a time. A man walking by asked: “What are you doing?” and the boy replied, “I’m saving starfish”. The man said, “But there are thousands; you’ll never save them all. What difference can one person make to thousands of stranded starfish?” The boy replied: “Tell that to the starfish I just threw back in. For the starfish who make it back into the ocean, it makes a big difference.”
Meals With A Mission reminded me that you don’t have to be rich to be generous and inspired me to change the conversation.
- Fast Company, May 2012, Good Eats: Meals With A Mission Makes Charity Intimate, Tasty
- Meals With A Mission
Thanks so much for the write-up. That made getting the kids off to school brighter this morning!
I think the times are right for this idea. If giving was fun and conversational, we’d do it more often, learn about great causes, better appreciate our friends and co-workers, and no deserving person or organization would be very far away from the benefits of a gift. Thanks for helping to get the word out.