These Are Things is mapping its way to community support

When you’re planning a trip, what is one of the first things you reach for? A map. So when Jen Adrion and Omar Noory wanted to travel they searched for a map to track their adventures, but couldn’t find one they liked. As graphic designers, they took matters into their own hands to create the type of map they were wanting. They created These Are Things to sell their maps, ranging from modern world maps to city neighborhood maps, including one of Columbus.

In January, Adrion and Noory began taking a portion of their sales to support a nonprofit. I interviewed Adrion to learn more about how the artists are giving back to nonprofits.

Community Shares: What was the inspiration for your giving program?

Omar Noory and Jen Adrion
These Are Things
Established in: 2010
Number of employees: 2

Jen Adrion: In January, after being in business for a year, we looked at our finances and realized that if we made a commitment to donate even just a small percentage of our sales, we could really make a difference in our community.

CS: How did you choose the charities you wanted to partner with?

JA: At first, we thought we’d choose one organization to support. As soon as we started researching, though, we saw that there were so many great groups that we’d never be able to choose just one. Now, both Omar and I keep a running list of organizations whose mission we support. Sometimes we’ll donate to the same group a few months in a row, and sometimes we switch it up every month. It’s nice to be able to choose different recipients for the funds as time goes on.

CS: What was the process you went through to create the program?

JA: It was pretty simple. We decided on a charity and made our first donation!

CS: Have you made any changes or modifications since you implemented the program?

JA: At first, we wanted to choose a different organization each month. In practice, we ended up donating to each organization for two to three months. For 2012, we’re planning to choose four organizations to work with on a quarterly basis. That way, we can make a bigger impact and the program will be easier for us to manage internally.

CS: Which organizations have you worked with so far?

JA: This year, we’ve worked with One Laptop Per Child, Capital Area Humane Society, Goodwill Columbus, The Kidney Foundation, Local Matters, and The Idea Foundry. At the end of this year, were planning to give a portion of our holiday sales to the Mid-Ohio Food Bank.

CS: How much have you raised so far?

JA: In our program’s first year, we’ve been able to donate a few thousand dollars to our group of organizations.

CS: What are the elements of making it a success?

JA: For us, choosing organizations that we personally identify with has been important. We do a lot of research to find organizations whose missions we stand behind. That way, when we make a donation, we feel confident that our giving program is creating positive change in areas we care about.

CS: What recommendations do you have for businesses interested in incorporating a philanthropic model into their business?

JA: Just get started! The great thing about running your own business is that you can design a giving program that works for you. Since our income is so variable, working with a percentage gives us the ability to scale our giving efforts as our sales fluctuate. This allows us to give more generously as our business grows.

Philanthropic Pursuit is a monthly feature on The Metropreneur, powered by Community Shares of Mid OhioIs your business giving back to the community or partnering with a local nonprofit in a unique way? We want to hear about it. Contact Ryan Kovalaske at [email protected].