The bank had asked me to speak at a seminar on philanthropy and corporate social responsibility and on this occasion I was to share a podium with one Larry Sullivan.
Larry, our banker connection (Steve) and I were meeting up beforehand to discuss the format of the seminar. When Larry was introduced to me he fired off three quick questions:
“What’s your business?”, “What’s the turnover?”, “Is it profitable?” Larry doesn’t muck about.
Over lunch, the three of us talked about our businesses, our connection with the construction industry, schools, family and lots of other good stuff.
Turns out Larry’s businesses are in reasonable shape. So much so he now spends most of his time tirelessly promoting, financing, seeking investors and recruiting great people to help the COINS Foundation projects he’s involved with.
Larry has a compelling way of telling and selling the COINS Foundations story using wit and authenticity in equally effective measure. It’s infectious. He balances the charity need with an entrepreneurial spin which appeals to me. Its not a ‘needy’ approach.
At the seminar I’d been fascinated by his talk, as had the majority of the room.
Of all the projects that Larry has started, The Cookie Bar is the one that resonated with me. The Cookie bar was set up to allow young people to become social and economic contributors. And by ‘social and economic contributors’ I mean young entrepreneurs learning how businesses run.
The Cookie Bar has many aims not least to eventually take on the High Street coffee giants. An enviable goal for a charity run in part, by the children.
I’ve always found it difficult to choose a charity. Should you go for a local hospice? a larger charity that has perhaps helped someone you know? A bigger global appeal?
I chose the Coins Foundation, and especially the Cookie Bar because having met the people involved and made a number of visits I could see how the money was being spent, how the project effected the lives of those it sought to effect and I could see that those involved cared deeply about what they were doing.
It’s not a massive faceless charity but an independent, driven and real one that I’m only just beginning to feel a real connection to.
If you’ve been moved to tears, reach for your wallet not your hanky and sponsor my efforts here. Thanks in advance.