GTPulse: Traverse City Vet Helps Businesses and Nonprofits Make an Impact
Traverse City local Nick Beadleston wants businesses and nonprofits to give back in a way that's meaningful to them and their communities, and he knows how to help. Good Impacts focuses on providing a path for organizations of all sizes a way to make an impact of their own.
When various issues of the world are brought to light businesses and corporations of all sizes scramble to tie a viewpoint to their brand. Many brands choose a path of allyship, which is great until they’re questioned on specifics of what they’re doing as a company to be an ally. Whether it’s supporting a social justice movement, giving back to the community, or aiding in environmental health, consumers like to see the brands they love spreading good in the world, and Traverse City local Nick Beadleston wants to help them do it.
“When you just cut a check, it’s insufficient.”
Nick started Good Impacts as a way to combine his love for community and doing good. He helps businesses give back to their intended communities in a way that is more involved than just donating money and forgetting about it until next year rolls around. He noticed his passion for helping people while serving in the military.
He joined the United States Army after high school where he ended up spending five years.
“I’m a Midwestern kid. And then, really a couple of months out of high school I was in rural Afghanistan. And the people were so similar [to us]. There are those real core, human similarities.”
He was impacted by the Afghan people. They showed him and his fellow soldiers’ kindness by inviting them to dinner and allowing them into their homes.
“There was definitely an excitement to share the local identity and culture. I had preconceived notions of what it was going to be like when I got there, who the people were going to be. Obviously everyone was not friendly and welcoming, but the vast majority of people were excited to share their culture. They wanted outsiders to know what they’re proud of.”
The experience stuck with him even after he returned to the civilian world.
“Both my wife and I grew up just outside of Chicago. Just a wonderful place to leave,” he said with a laugh.
When he got out of the army he went to school in Colorado where he studied political science and journalism. He got an internship at a newspaper in Colorado Springs covering military affairs. At the time he was dating his wife Lauren long distance.
“Her parents had retired up here and she moved to stay with them. So eventually, I moved here from Colorado. I worried about how small Traverse City was, actually as an important caveat, I had only ever been here in the winter. I thought everybody received a Pure Michigan stipend every time they mentioned to an outsider how good the summers are. If anything, they undersold it.”
He got involved working on the nonprofit side of Higher Grounds doing community development projects.
“So I spent the next several years learning quite a lot, especially the coffee industry, community development. They really are at the tip of the spear in their industry, ethical practices and ethical sourcing.”
He liked putting philanthropy at the heart and soul of a business, which is where the idea for Good Impacts arose.
“And so over time, I started to realize that the nonprofit mission is fantastic, but that the model is flawed. So how do you start to transcribe those things over to a better model? What model is inherently better at growing and scaling? How do we get profit-driven companies to tackle the same kinds of problems that nonprofits are tackling?”
He helps businesses and nonprofits of all sizes come up with a plan to give back. Whether on a large international scale, a national scale, or locally. And it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.
“What is your goal as a business? Is it to give away x amount of dollars in the most sufficient way possible? Is it to make specific and substantial changes? Then we’ll talk about that with the resources you have.”
Smaller businesses that have fewer resources available still have ways they can give back.
“What’s the smallest positive impact you can make today, then what’s next? Maybe that looks like starting a green team within the organization, or a volunteer committee that focuses on recycling. Workshop [Brewing] they’re a service-based business, they’re a food business, they operate close to the line. They’ve put a lot of time and intentionality into, ‘what can we provide our employees? How can we get creative in the ways we serve our community?’”
The process starts with picking a cause that means something to the organization. The cause should be something that is important to both the customer and the business or nonprofit. Without direction or intention, a business will continue cycling through donating to unrelated causes year by year. Puppies last year, cancer this year, clean water the next.
“Cherry Republic over the past couple of years has gotten more strategic with their philanthropy. They decided they wanted to support environmental initiatives and struggling farmers. They’ve had those tough conversations, ‘what do we really want to do in our community?’”
Strategic philanthropy involves both the employer and their employees more in issues important to them and their communities and has a trickle-down effect of giving employees pride in their workplace.
“That’s something that really builds strong teams, and small businesses are starting to understand that while it may have nothing to do with our day to day operations, this is a way to really bring people together. It’s not a once a year trust fall. All team building is a little bit more challenging right now because volunteerism can be difficult.”
Doing good isn’t always easy. Some would argue that most of the time, it’s the more difficult thing to do. But as community leaders, we look to the businesses we love for examples of what it looks like to cultivate and care for the community.
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