The Best Tater is a Facilitator

by admin on July 6, 2012

I always think twice before I do an off-topic post, but I decided to go ahead today. How can I resist, with a title like that?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, a local bookstore called the Capitola Book Café is holding a fund drive in order to stay in business and set up a non-profit subsidiary to support community events. The drive, called “Survive & Thrive,” was originally supposed to end on June 30, but they have extended it until July 31. If you didn’t contribute before but feel like contributing now, you can still do it!

However, that’s not the main thing I want to write about. I want to share a small way in which I facilitated (maybe) their drive, which also illustrates their “go-for-it” spirit.

On June 27, I happened to notice on Facebook that Chase Community Giving (a philanthropic arm of Chase Bank) was running a grant program called “Mission: Small Business.” It looked to me like a perfect fit for the Capitola Book Café. Chase will select twelve small businesses to receive grants of $250,000 each. To be eligible, a business had to write up an application and receive at least 250 votes of support on Facebook. But there was a problem: the votes and the application had to be in by June 30.

I e-mailed Wendy Mayer, the owner of the Book Café, to let her know about the program, adding apologetically that I was sorry that I didn’t find out about it until three days before the deadline. I didn’t hear anything from her, so I assumed that my e-mail had gotten to her too late.

I was wrong! When I logged into Facebook again on July 1, I saw that the Book Café had sent in an application and that their voting page went online just 30 hours before the scheduled end of the application period. (Remember, lots of other businesses had been collecting votes for seven weeks.)

So what happened? Well, the comments posted on the Book Café’s Facebook page show just how close a call it was:

  • Saturday, 1:00 AM: 88 votes collected, 21 hours to go
  • Saturday, 9:00 AM: 120 votes, 13 hours to go
  • Saturday, 4:00 PM: 210 votes, 6 hours to go
  • Saturday: 6:09 PM: 235 votes, 4 hours to go. “ACK! Can we make it?” the poster (Wendy?) writes.
  • Saturday, 8:00 PM: 262 votes, 2 hours to go. OVER THE TOP!
  • Saturday, 10:00 PM: 270 votes, voting closes.

I doubt that there are many other small businesses in America that could have gotten 270 votes in a little more than 24 hours!

Now if I were a board member at Chase Community Giving and I saw an application from a bookstore that will literally close its doors if it doesn’t get the money, that has such a long track record of great events, that got 250 votes in one day, and that already has a fund-raising drive going with great plans for the future, I would think that this would be a great business to invest $250,000 in. It’s putting the money where it will make the most difference.

But of course there are thousands of other small businesses across the country that also have good arguments. So to be realistic, the chances are small that the Book Café will actually win one of these grants. But the only sure thing is that if you don’t try, you won’t win. I can’t say how much I admire them for pulling together this vote drive and succeeding at it, under incredible time pressure!

So that’s my story for today. Sorry about the interruption to my regular chess posting. But by the way, if any of you have an extra $250,000 lying around under a mattress… or even $2.50…  😉

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