Like everyone (on the planet), we’re in a different landscape than we were a few years ago. A few highlights:

  • A couple years on from 2020, it’s easier to spend our energy in person. That impacts how and where we’re able to show up both individually and as a team.
  • Our clients’ businesses evolved from 2020-2023, and our team grew both literally (headcount) and figuratively (improved benefits, salaries, etc).
  • We’ve seen what it’s like to have months (plural, in a row) with no profit. I suspect most of our neighbors can say the same thing.

This is life. We’re strategists and organizers, so this is just another puzzle to solve. Now, we have different financial considerations and growth goals, and we want to be smart with how we spend our limited funds. We want to share a brief summary.

2024-Day Work Weeks

To date, we’ve set aggressive goals to donate a percentage of our monthly income to charitable causes. Direct cash (or check/credit) donations. Then, in late 2022, we switched to 4-day work weeks (for the most part) — on Fridays, our team spends at least one hour doing volunteer work, and one hour progressing on a larger skill-building project. This changed how cash flows through our business: we’re now investing more in our team than ever before.

Operating in a world riding the waves caused by the bullets in the intro above, we counted 4+ months in 2023 where we found ourselves meeting our internal health & safety goals for immediate expenses, but not able to donate the way we had before.

Noticing this trend by mid-2023, we asked the team for feedback, and learned that overall, their priority leans towards volunteering their time and talents, rather than donating to orgs and causes (when we can). Sharing skills, time, and energy provides a more direct connection with the cause — and at times is more fun. So, we changed some of our practices, including focusing on sweat equity over cash donations.

Since then, we’ve been iterating on what that looks like for us. In an ideal world, we would be able to donate money to causes and volunteer our time on the clock and work with nonprofit clients at a discounted or pro bono rate. Realistically, though, we can’t do all of these things and still stay afloat as a company. (At least, we haven’t found a way quite yet).

We want an internal policy to hold ourselves accountable, so we aren’t giving up.

For now, let’s compare that to the goals for 2024, from our 2022 Impact Report:

Make an Impact: Create and expand our initiatives for local economic development.

  • We can help outfit clients, organizations, and causes with the tools they need to continue having an impact. We can keep our supply chain as local and diversely owned as possible. We can also support other collaborators in these types of efforts.
  • Dedicating paid volunteer time internally helps us create bigger, longer-lasting projects. We’re proactively tinkering with our schedule and workload to take on more non-profit and pro-bono work.

Share & Amplify: Spread awareness for causes we care about and our collective volunteer efforts.

  • We use our outward-facing channels to share the causes we care about.
  • We try to signal-boost other community members consistently.
  • Empowering our team members to volunteer with organizations has positioned our team as ambassadors for their causes: we’re able to build relationships, exchange knowledge and learn from each other. We use this knowledge to amplify their missions.

Dedicate 25%: Increase the percentage of our net profits that we direct towards charitable causes.

  • This is still our goal, and we’re slowly building towards it.
  • We’re exploring future goal-setting that tracks our internal efforts, rather than just income. How can we weave donated time and energy into the fabric of our company so that a quarter of our effort goes directly to serve under-resourced and/or intentionally ignored recipients – and still meet all of our own internal goals? We don’t have the answer yet, but we’re working on the puzzle.

Where We’re Going

Our goal is to inwardly—and outwardly—communicate clear, trackable goals for philanthropy and community-based work. We’ll share more as we find new paths forward. We’re keeping up with our paid volunteering time for all full-time team members each month.

If you have thoughts on any of this, let’s get coffee. We’re always looking for other angles.

We’re also looking for nonprofit organizations to partner up with, and ways to get more involved in the local creative Lexington community. If you have ideas, give us a shout.

Teagan Miller, illustration by Elizabeth Hall for Mediocre Creative

Teagan is the Head of Employee Experience at Mediocre. She identifies opportunities for improvements to employee experience, works closely with company ownership to implement changes, and directs our team’s sustainability efforts.


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