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I believe in the power of collaboration between business and community | Burlington Free Press |

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I believe in the power of collaboration between business and community
Oct. 8, 2011
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Leslie Halperin is setting up the 10th annual Clothes Exchange as a pop-up shop at the former Outdoor Gear Exchgange space on Cherry Street in Burlington. Seen on Wednesday, October 5, 2011. Proceeds will benefit the Intervale Farmers Recovery Fund. / GLENN RUSSELL, Free Press
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timberland Vermonters live and breathe the ethos that business has a responsibility to give back to the community. Channeling that commitment into reality is the challenge. I believe we can do so through deep and enduring collaborations between nonprofit and for profit companies, resulting in more effective and sustainable nonprofit organizations and more vibrant businesses in our community.discount timberland boots Typically, these kinds of partnerships start with a charitable gift. The gift benefits the nonprofit; goodwill and perhaps some marketing exposure accrues to the company. This type of philanthropic relationship is valuable; however, partnerships that evolve to a deeper level of engagement can produce even more meaningful and lasting social and business outcomes. timberland boot outlet Benefits for the nonprofit might include increased cost efficiencies, new revenue generating opportunities, and, overall, build and develop more sustainable nonprofit organizations that more effectively accomplish their charitable missions. For the business, benefits might include increased worker morale, effective employee volunteer experiences, access to new products and business partners and improved public image. timberland boot outlet I experienced this first-hand during my years at Ben & Jerry's. The nonprofit, DREAM, and its relationship with Ben & Jerry's illustrates how a nonprofit/business partnership can evolve. Initially, DREAM received a small grant (and some ice cream) from Ben & Jerry's to support its mentoring work. The relationship moved to a new level when Ben & Jerry's realized DREAM had an asset it needed — expertise in youth development — and DREAM realized that Ben & Jerry's had an asset it needed — office space. Once the DREAM staff moved into the South Burlington headquarters, new opportunities for partnership surfaced; Ben & Jerry's employees joined the DREAM board and employees signed-up to volunteer for DREAM. timberland boots DREAM staff have brought new vitality and energy to the office and have facilitated team building activities and training for Ben & Jerry's factory tour hosts. Sharing space has made it possible for DREAM staffers to tap into marketing, social media and HR talent at Ben & Jerry's, and the Ben & Jerry's endorsement has helped them secure new grant funding and expand into new markets. (Page 2 of 2) timberland boot outlet Leadership on the national stage serves to inspire me further: Timberland Company and City Year have taken nonprofit/business partnership to an entirely new level. The relationship started when City Year made a request for donations of Timberland boots. Today, the two entities share a physical space, along with communication, financial and marketing resources. City Year provides Timberland employees with service opportunities and training, and it makes a significant contribution to building a service culture at Timberland. I've experienced first-hand the benefits of cross-sector collaboration through my work with The Clothes Exchange, a social enterprise that works with other businesses to benefit nonprofit organizations. Over the years, we've been fortunate to develop relationships with more than 60 business partners; some offer cash, others offer talent and time, but most offer clothing. Since 2008, the number of companies that we work with who donate new merchandise has more than tripled. I attribute this success to mutual benefit. We turn the clothing into cash for local nonprofits and they provide us volunteers to run our events. We provide our partners with a outlet for their excess merchandise and a tangible, sustainable way to give back to the community and make a difference, such as through our Pop-Up Shop to benefit the Intervale Center Farmers' Recovery Fund, happening October 15-16. Tropical Storm Irene devasteted the Intervale. Now, business and community is coming together to help rebuild this vibrant and vital local nonprofit. Having spent nearly half my career in the nonprofit sector and the other half in the for-profit world, and the remainder somewhere in between, I know how these types of partnerships can work and how much work they can take to build. I also know how incredibly worthwhile that work is for everyone involved. While these types of collaborations are often complicated and require time, trust and effort to develop, the social and economic benefits of these relationships are well worth it. We are all capable of making small-scale change, but, when we work together, we can achieve large-scale goals that make our local communities, our country — even the planet — a better place. Leslie Halperin is the president and founder of The Clothes Exchange, a mission-driven social enterprise dedicated to turning clothing into cash for community benefit. Since 2001, the Clothes Exchange has raised $280,000 for area nonprofits. Leslie may be contacted at leslie@theclothesexchange.org . The Clothes Exchange will host a special pop-up shop to benefit the Intervale Center Farmers' Recovery Fund on October 15-16 in Burlington. To learn more, please visit www.theclothesexchange.org .
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