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How One Creative Entrepreneur Gives Back in a Big Way

I often get asked about what working with me looks like, and how it can make sense for someone running a small business. I have the perfect example for you: Val Marie Paper. 

Solopreneur, creative entrepreneur, do-gooder, business owner.  You could call Val Woerner any of these and you would be right. 

Val owns and operates Val Marie Paper, which sells prayer journals primarily, but also does a whole lot more. This woman has written a book, is a talented designer, and of course ... gives back. The best thing about working with Val is getting to Skype with her (she lives in the South y'all! Let's swoon just a minute for the South). Though she is often juggling writing, having a kiddo on her lap, and designing her thoughtful and beautiful prayer journals, she is always present and has that Southern accent that makes you swoon and crave sweet tea. I have no doubt if I could have gone to meet her in person, she would have offered me some.  

Let's cut to the chase, Val is the exception to the rule. She sets aside 10% FIRST to give back. She does this without exception and because of that dedication, she started to see that she could make a huge impact if it was focused. That’s where I came in to help give some guidance on where to give and how to do it {more on that below). 

After working together for about two months, Val landed on Reciprocal Ministries International (RMI) as her give back partner. RMI does work in Haiti to help families get connected to the church, provide for their children, and get their kids into school. With the Val and RMI partnership, 450 students will get hot meals this school year. That breaks down into every single journal that Val sells, giving six kids a full meal. 

Why is that such a big deal? Full bellies keep kids in school, which in Africa they are fighting hard to get to and stay in. Full bellies help kids grow and develop their brains so that they can pull themselves out of poverty. Full bellies keep kids from committing crimes out of desperation. Full bellies take the pressure off of parents who are often choosing between which meals their families get, or between rent and food. It’s not easy. 

Val’s contribution is a game changer to say the least, and it’s not even impacting her product, consumer, prices, etc. That is the magic we love. 

Here’s a little glimpse into what we worked through to get her to where she is now: 

1.    Which causes is THE cause for her?

Because Val is the brand behind the business, this project was about both her AND her customer – what do they have in common, what passions and purposes overlap, what makes sense for both? 

In this instance we talked about children, female entrepreneurs, writing, faith, Haiti, and more. What we settled on was a mixture of people and place. She had a heart for helping kids thrive, as well as for people living in poverty who need help overcoming that inherent struggle. 

2.    Once we found the cause, then which charity do we partner with? 

Once we realized how she wanted to help, we needed the right partner. I pitched about 35 organizations to her, and then narrowed that down to three different organizations when Val actually brought up an organization that she was familiar. From there,  I vetted and ran through the Abel Impact process and interview with them. 

It ended up being a great fit, but we did need some of those initial collaborative conversations, background vetting, and partnership details ironed out, all of which can just be hard to have as the founder/ someone who doesn't think about charitable partnerships all day. 

3.    Now we have an charity partner, but what impact are we going for? 

Like most organizations, the one Val picked had a few different programs that we could invest in. It came down to this: how BIG of an impact can we make with our dollars? How can we give the most with what we have and also be a part of something that moves Val and her customers?

4.    How does this fit into the business? 

We broke down the dollar to impact ratio (one of our fun little equations to help you figure out how your dollars create change) so that we could see how Val’s product sales could be tied to each meal she’s giving. It turns out each journal being sold provides six meals, which is a HUGE deal. That’s SIX individual kids getting lunch at school that very day you buy a journal. 

We have talked about many ideas around her giving and I’m excited to see where it goes. I have no doubt she will go above and beyond to find new ways to collaborate and even to inspire her customers. 

Additionally, what I love beyond Val’s generosity, is that she doesn’t burden her customers with having to choose if or how they make an impact. It’s baked in to each purchase no matter what, so that you don’t have to feel obligated to donate or confused about what to do. 

If there was ever an example of one woman making a big difference, that I personally KNOW and can see WORKS, this is it. 

For more info about Val Marie Paper, visit her site here, and learn about her impact here