This is a post that has been on my mind for a long time, but I haven’t wanted to write it. Mostly because I hate that it’s necessary. But also because I like to stay more behind the scenes and private, especially in regards to finances. I think we’re at the point that it is necessary – maybe even past that point. I’ll start with a little history…
Purpose Coffee was founded within our church, with Russell and I integral in its founding – but certainly not solely responsible. Our former pastors, John and Alysa, will always be considered co-founders, as they brought us into an idea they had, invested in that idea, and were vital in bringing a product to market. Our church was equally integral, in terms of enthusiasm and actual support (like volunteers and electricity). Ryan Wood lent us his expertise in roasting and developed the coffee flavors we all love today.
As the company grew and got traction outside of our congregation, we were told that we should incorporate outside of the church and move our operations offsite. We went back and forth for many hours with accountants and legal professionals, ultimately realizing that we would not be able to incorporate as a 501(c)3. Today, Russell and I own Purpose Coffee as a for-profit business – but hold steadfast to the original spirit of the company: that ALL proceeds would go to child wellness projects around the world. The IRS doesn’t consider us a non-profit, but we try to run the business as such.
A HUGE part of any good non-profit business is transparency, especially in regards to finances. I’ve allowed my personal desire for privacy to negatively impact that – and I think a lot of our customers have been left with less information than they would like. I apologize for that.
Even with my desire for privacy, I truly do believe in transparency, authenticity, and vulnerability. I want to live by that in my personal and my professional life. So, here’s my transparency.
Purpose Coffee Co.
Like I said, Russell and I do own Purpose Coffee, as a for-profit business. Much like all of our other awesome small businesses in town, we are just a family, standing behind a business, trying to make it successful.
We don’t take a salary, nor do we take a portion of the profits. Russell and I don’t get a penny from Purpose Coffee. Indeed, quite the opposite, as we’ve personally invested thousands of dollars and even more hours to carry this company forward.
But, that was our dream – that we could invest the money we would normally give and invest our time and talents, multiply those investments through a commercial venture, and have more to give to those kids we care so deeply about. And, with a lot of favor from the Lord and an amazing amount of support from family, friends, church members, businesses, and people I don’t even know – it has worked. Together, we’ve sent over $60,000 to care for, provide for, and support kids around the world. Those pictures of kids we share… those are actual kids that we – meaning you and me – are helping. Just by drinking coffee, running in a race, or buying a piece of jewelry.
Our dear friends, Trevor and Tawny Allen, have been passionate about this project from the start. When I say this company wouldn’t exist without them, I mean that literally. They saw a future for Purpose Coffee as a store in Dalhart. I ran the numbers over and over and had us losing $30,000 a year. But, they had faith.
Together with them, we personally purchased our building at 324 Rock Island Ave. We personally invested in the improvements. We created an entity, Purpose: Dalhart, which owns the building, pays the utility bills, and pays our part-time employees. We also put on events for the community and allow the space to be used for ministry events, meetings, showers, and more.
I use 10% of Purpose Coffee’s sales to help cover those costs, as rent. That amount varies month to month, but has only once covered all of our monthly expenses. The rest of the months, we cover the rest personally. And, none of the proceeds from Purpose Coffee have been used to invest in the actual building or the renovations.
Of course I’d love for Purpose Coffee to get to a place that it is self-sustaining. But, even if it never gets there – it’s our desire to invest in this idea of giving forward and growing the Kingdom of God. We cover those costs each month cheerfully, knowing it’s one way for us to sow into other peoples’ lives.
The Child Wellness Fund
Out of Purpose Coffee’s sales, I also calculate our donations each month. I automatically donate $5 from a bag of coffee, and $3 from a merchandise item. If at the end of the year, we have additional funds after all of our expenses have been paid, then we will donate the remaining proceeds.
These donations go to our Child Wellness Fund – which is a designated charitable fund that we house at our church. We’ve gone back and forth a lot about whether we need to pursue setting up our own foundation. And in the future, it might come to that.
But, for now, we believe in keeping true to the company’s origins. And the truth is, we went on a mission trip with our church and became passionate about helping the kids we met. So, we want to send our money back to those kids who sparked this idea.
The church very graciously hosts the fund for us for free, not taking any administrative fees out of the donations. Our only fees are bank fees to transfer internationally or merchant fees to send the money to our partners on the ground. Other than that, ALL donations are sent to invest in child wellness.
The Embassy Program
We started the Embassy program as a way for other churches to get involved. We recognize that many people and churches have their own missions organizations or projects that they are passionate about – and don’t necessarily want to give to the ones we are passionate about. So, we offer Purpose Coffee as a tool to raise funds for those other organizations and projects.
Churches have the opportunity to buy Purpose Coffee at a wholesale rate, and use our normal donation amount to go to their missions work. We ask that the funds go to a project not a person, and that it’s related to child wellness in developing regions.
We are excited to have several churches enrolled in our Embassy Program, from brand new churches to established ones, traditional to new age, and all around the state and into Oklahoma. Some have become passionate about our projects and support them, and others have their own missions work they are investing in.
The Purpose Run
A huge part of our vision and success has been our annual fundraising event – the Purpose Run. We host an annual 10k, 5k, and Fun Run, with a pancake breakfast, planned and put on by a team of volunteers. We solicit sponsors for that event – which go directly to our charitable fund so that they are tax deductible.
These sponsorships cover the costs of the event (like space rental, the supplies for the breakfast, bibs for the runners, signage, etc.) and the rest is donated to our designated child wellness projects. Those totals, as well as other personal donations to our charitable fund, are included in the $60,000 that we have sent around the world.
The Purpose Market
After last year’s Purpose Run, we had someone ask if we would consider making a donation to the cause that they care about. It wasn’t in our mission – but it got me thinking. I believe in pursuing passions – charitable and profitable. I believe, wholeheartedly, that’s where you find your purpose in life. I found my purpose in coffee, and I want to encourage as many people as I can to find their purpose.
So, I wanted to give what I can to help others pursue their passions. And, what I have to offer is marketing skills and event planning. That’s what I went to school for and what I like to do.
And we have this neat little building that we want to use to benefit and help as many people as possible.
When we first purchased the building, we had more space than we needed. We sat around and brainstormed how we could use the space. Coming from bigger cities, and desiring local produce for our families, (and Russell was growing lettuce in our garage at that time, and I wanted to get it out of my garage!), we were so excited about the idea of a Farmer’s Market!
We talked with a few people about making that idea happen – and Ann Munden had a similar vision for bringing local produce and goods to our community. She was starting a CSA and wanted to help start a Farmer’s Market too. Ann, Tawny, and I have spent so many hours making that dream come to be.
I can’t speak for Ann and Tawny, but my heart’s desire was that the Market could be a space that people could find their purpose – thus the name, The Purpose Market. I hoped that people with hidden talents and hobbies could confidently take their goods to the community and make a successful business. And I hoped that local non-profits or people passionate about a certain cause would use The Purpose Market as an avenue to raise funds or awareness.
At this point, we don’t have much money for the actual market. We applied for a federal grant, that would help us provide more services to our vendors. But, in the meantime, I can offer space and marketing. I know it’s not much – but it’s what I have to give.
We have had several people ask if we require the vendors to donate their proceeds. I wouldn’t say no if they wanted to ;) but we do not require that. Purpose Coffee does have a booth at the Market, but our benefit ends there. We simply wanted to provide the space and help create the atmosphere for a successful Market.
Community Event Series
During the planning, as we envisioned what the Market would look like and how it could serve our community, we decided to plan a series of community events alongside the Market.
I’m not a runner (which makes the fact that I host a run quite comical) – but I truly love the community feel of our annual Purpose Run. It’s one of my favorite days of the year. So, I wanted to duplicate that feel at each of our Markets.
We decided to host a series of community events on the first Saturday of each month, (in conjunction with the Market, but ultimately separate in all ways – funding, planning, and location since these activities are hosted outside of the Market fence and across the street). These events would culminate in our annual run and pancake breakfast. On the third Saturdays, we planned a smaller series of events, including kid’s make it and take it crafts, cooking demonstrations, and live music.
We put together a team of volunteers to plan each event. (A huge thank you to Tawny Allen, Callie Wiley, Erica Hoffman, Ann Munden, Krisa Smith, Jennifer Been, and Kim Cummings for your volunteer hours to put these events together. And Tawny, Ann, and Jennifer for planning the Third Saturdays.)
Just like we do every year for our Purpose Run, we solicited sponsorships from businesses and individuals, which were deposited into our charitable account. Those sponsorships will cover some of the costs of putting on the events, with any that is left going to our child wellness projects.
Ultimately, we might have less to give to our mission since we are putting on 12 events instead of 1. That was a gamble I took going into this. But, I wanted to invest in our community. And, beyond that, I wanted our community to be a part of Purpose Coffee’s mission. And I wanted to give what I could – even if all I have to give is space and advertising.
I know that God brought us to Dalhart for a reason – a purpose. We are proud to live here, farm here, run a business here, and raise a family here. I want this to be a vibrant community, with things to do on the weekend. I want to have a neat coffee shop to meet with friends. I want my son to grow up knowing what community is. I want him to see what it means to give what you can.
So there it is. There’s my transparency. My motives. My truth.
I hope that you’ll join me – and so many others who have been passionate supporters and advocates for Purpose Coffee and all of our little projects. Your investment of time or talent or finances is being invested directly in this community and all around the world. We strive to use our funds prudently so that we can give as much as possible to help kids. I hope you see us as good stewards of your investment.
And I hope that if you have questions or concerns or misgivings, that you bring them to me. I promise to answer you with authenticity and openness.