Many of you may know that over spring break my family and I went on a mission trip to Haiti. It was a specific request from my 17 year old son who is a high school senior. He had been wanting the family to go on a mission trip together, but there never seemed to be time to fit it in.
So we decided to quit procrastinating and do it! We connected with an organization called Healing Haiti and joined 14 others on a week-long mission trip that was truly life-changing!
While the story of our trip is powerful and emotional, the significance of the Healing Haiti organization is more inspirational. Here’s just a little of the backstory – which I believe just might change the way you look at the purpose of your business.
I met Jeff Gacek in Minnesota nearly 10 years ago. He and I were on a leadership advisory group at our church. Jeff and his wife Alyn had decided to go on a mission trip to Haiti for the first time. When they returned, Jeff and his wife were changed. They could not get the sights, sounds, smells and horrific living conditions they encountered out of their heads. For months Jeff would share his frustration around wanting to do something, but not knowing what or how.
Then he and Alyn devised a plan. Jeff owned a printing business in the metroplex, but was not particularly passionate about the printing industry. So he asked a relative to come run the business for him while he and Alyn spent time setting up a non-profit organization and launched their Healing Haiti operation.
To fund the non-profit, Jeff structured his printing business so that 50% of the profit from every printing job would go directly to their new Healing Haiti organization! 50% of the profits!
With this new sense of purpose for the business, they were not bashful about telling their customers and prospects about their “mission” and “why”. They incorporated their purpose into their marketing pitch and marketing materials. “You’re going to get your printing done somewhere. Why not get it done by a company who is going to direct 50% of the profits to a worthy cause?” It was a clear and compelling message!
And you can imagine the response. The business took off – and the share of profits going to the Healing Haiti operations grew and grew! Starting with just an idea and a passion to make a difference, Jeff and Alyn had created a business engine that would fund their purpose-driven efforts.
Today, 6 or 7 years later, Healing Haiti is a powerful influence in Haiti. They are hosting 2, 15 person mission teams each week who serve in many of the local hospitals, orphanages, and in the poorest of the slums in the city of Port-au-Prince.
They have also built a refuge for many Haitians in a town called Titanyen that is called Grace Village. Grace Village is a self-contained community that houses 48 orphaned children, has classrooms for grades K-9th grade where 300-400 local children come every day and the largest playground in Haiti that is open to all children in the village. They will soon have the only artificial turf soccer field in Haiti – for soccer clubs and tournaments, and are building a medical and dental clinic that will be open to the community for health care.
In addition, they are helping the local Haitians learn how to support themselves. They are building 3 outdoor wood-burning ovens where the locals can come bake their breads with a structured plan that 1/3 of what they make will stay for the children, 1/3 is for their family and 1/3 is for them to sell at the market. They are doing the same with fish tanks where they are growing fish and cycling the water into a new aquaponics vegetable garden. Local residents will be given a section of the vegetable garden to tend and harvest with the same 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 arrangement as the baking ovens!
I could go on and on…
Let’s just say that the result of their faithful and purposeful mission is beyond belief. And it has been made possible largely from the structure of their printing business and their willingness to tell their customers and prospects WHY they are in the printing business.
Frankly, I am in the middle of determining that for myself. I’ve been pouring into many different causes that others are passionate about. It is time for me to determine what I am passionate about – and structure it into my business.
One thing that is for certain, I am going to focus my coaching practice to help those business owners who either have a specific purpose of are working to find one. It turns any business into a powerful engine for positive change – and that’s where I want to spend my efforts!
So how about you? What is the purpose for your business? Is this something you need to be thinking and praying about? If you’d like to bounce around your thoughts, I’d be glad to visit with you. There are so many who need our help – so many who are less fortunate than us. Now is the time to decide our purpose and begin leaving a legacy – like Jeff and Alyn!