By Chi-Ming Chien, Principal and Co-Founder
Dayspring’s ordinary practice is to give 10% of our net income in support of community-serving organizations. But, despite this time of economic uncertainty—and, in fact, because of it—we’ve decided that we need to do more than we have in the past. During this extraordinary time, we’ve decided to give 5% of our revenue for five months and focus that giving towards our neighborhood. We call this #revenue5for5. Here’s how we arrived at this commitment.
Affirming our purpose
In March, as Dayspring quickly moved our staff to work remotely, we also anticipated that, with our economy entering a potentially protracted recession, Dayspring would not escape unscathed. Sure enough, some current projects were put on immediate hold, planned projects were postponed, and our pipeline of prospective work looked more uncertain. We pondered how to respond as a company.
At the same time, we recognized that we were privileged to keep working while sheltering in place. Many local businesses had to completely shut down or scale back operations. We had growing concern over whether these businesses—and our neighbors whose livelihoods depended on them—would survive this pandemic.
These twin challenges pushed us to reflect on our company’s core values and purpose. Core to our company has been a three-pillared purpose: to embody an ethic of love in our workplace, with the clients and vendors that constitute our marketplace relationships, and toward our community. We concluded that in a time of pandemic it’s even more important for this purpose to define our company.
Vulnerability and generosity
What is clear is that nobody knows exactly what will happen next. Humility appropriately says that we don’t know the future. But while hoarding is a natural response to this feeling of vulnerability, a truly human response is to refuse to be defined by scarcity in the face of our neighbors’ urgent needs. We’ve found that it’s in practicing a generous, self-giving ethic that we ultimately find deep joy. And we trust that living into our vision and continuing in love for our workplace, marketplace, and community neighbors is the best way forward.
Here is some of what we’ve done.
In our workplace and marketplace…
For our staff, we funded home office upgrades; planned for expanded sick and family leave; created a fund for financially distressed employees, such as our part-time janitors who may lose other work; and empowered our employees to spend money at small, local brick-and-mortar retail businesses to get needed funds to our neighbors quickly.
For our clients directly affected by Covid-19, we’re offering our consulting services with deferred payment. We’re paying invoices from small business vendors immediately on receipt. For current subscribers to Goodbudget, our household financial management platform, we’re offering free subscription extensions to help those impacted by Covid-19 stay on budget.
For our community: #revenue5for5
While it’s important for Dayspring to weather this pandemic, care for our staff, and support our clients, we also wanted to do more to respond to the needs of our immediate neighbors. Pre-pandemic, in the Bayview/Hunters Point neighborhood we call home, many storefronts were already sitting empty, and poverty and joblessness were already approximately double that of the rest of San Francisco. This is the backdrop for our #revenue5for5 commitment.
So far, through our #revenue5for5 commitment, more than $40,000 has gone toward:
- Emergency pandemic grants through the Neighbor Fund, our joint initiative with Redeemer Community Church to support Bayview small businesses.
- Scholarships for our partner school Rise University Preparatory, for students of already modest means whose families have lost jobs and income because of the pandemic.
- Redeemer’s Pandemic Fund, to support the basic needs of neighbors (food, clothing, shelter, and medical care).
- Our local food bank.
In addition, we’ve contributed our core consulting, design, and engineering expertise:
- We helped launch a brand and a simple website for Sewing 4 Good, a group of volunteer sewing collectives addressing the critical shortage of medical isolation gowns. 240 volunteers strong and growing!
- We helped a team to quickly launch an SMS-based service targeted to low-tech small service providers enabling them to quickly offer digital vouchers and grow their clientele network.
And a whole host of other ideas generated by Dayspring staff are in process.
Leave no neighbor(hood) behind
Can we humbly suggest that there are businesses which, despite uncertain prospects, are still in better shape than their neighbors? If you work in one of those, how can you give more in this time? Could you make the #revenue5for5 commitment? Take 5% of your revenue and allocate it to caring for your community or a nearby high-need community. If your business is a lower-margin business than a professional services firm like ours, #revenue3for3 or #profit5for5—5% of your profit for 5 months—may work. Engage your employees, your partners, and your neighborhood contacts to find ways to care and sustain. We can take this as a call and opportunity to weave a thicker social fabric—and experience the joy of refusing to have our actions defined by scarcity. We can do business better, together, for good.
#viralgenerosity #revenue5for5 #WeavingCommunity
Thanks to Dale Gish, Ben Chang, Jonathan Tran (Associate Professor of Philosophical Theology and George W. Baines Chair of Religion at Baylor University*), and Nancy Chan (Strategy and Evaluation, Justice and Opportunity Initiative, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative*) for input into and feedback on drafts of this.
* Organizational affiliations for identification purposes only.