By Olivia Rau
The Mitten Brewing
Company is a vintage baseball themed microbrewery located in a
historic firehouse, Engine House #9, in Grand Rapids’ West Side. Since
its opening in 2012, the Mitten has built a unique reputation for
pairing high-quality craft beers and gourmet pizzas with community
involvement. Giving back to the local community is a core value of the
Mitten—they have given more than $300,000 in charitable gifts to local
nonprofits since 2012. While the brewery’s commitment to their
community through volunteerism and charitable giving has been evident
from the beginning, the organization further bolstered their
philanthropic capacity by forming their own nonprofit foundation in
2017, Mitten Foundation.
The mission of the foundation reads, “Mitten Foundation exists to
enhance and elevate our community by utilizing the resources of The
Mitten Brewing Co. and partners.” The simplicity of this mission feeds
into the foundation’s criteria for selecting its nonprofit partners:
1) it must be a local organization, and 2) it must be small enough
that the donation will make a measurable difference. The foundation’s
care in selecting truly local organizations that are in the greatest
need helps them to connect each dollar donated to the effect it has in
In 2019 alone, Mitten Foundation
gave $10,000 to offset in shelter costs for survivors of domestic
abuse, $4,100 in sports equipment for inner city youth, $2,266 in
classroom supply grants for teachers, and much more. They also
utilized their resources to help alleviate the burden of local food
insecurity by supporting 60,000 meals through Feeding America in West
Michigan food pantries, 10,000 meals through Kids’ Food Basket, and by
providing and serving over 2,000 slices of pizza. Given the Mitten Brewing Co. and
Mitten Foundation’s impressive philanthropic track record and
community involvement accomplishments of 2019, we are excited to see
what’s in store for 2020!
May 5, 2020
By Patty Janes and Olivia Rau
While there are a variety of terms in use to describe an
organization’s social giving (corporate citizenship, triple bottom
line, etc.), corporate social responsibility (CSR) is often used as an
overarching term. CSR can be defined as actions outside an
organization’s normal scope of business that seek to address the needs
of the community beyond pure economics (Carroll, 1999). These
activities seek to align social good and ethical obligations with
business objectives. CSR is a function to meet — and hopefully exceed
— stakeholder expectations.
Throughout this last decade, CSR in various shapes has taken deeper
root. A 2015 KPMG Survey of Corporate Responsibility Reporting
estimated that 92% of the Fortune 250 took action toward a larger
social mission and produced an annual report summarizing their actions
and impacts. These activities varywidely, but share the intent to
benefit both the “organization” — through motivated employees and
increased profits — and the“community” it serves — by addressing
relevant social issues. Further, 82% of the S&P 500 produced
reports detailing their CSR initiatives in 2016, a significant
increase from less than 20% reporting their CSR efforts in 2011
CSR Models. Definitions and models attempting to explain the CSR
phenomena have evolved significantly over the years. Early analysis
focused on the obligation of businesses to consider how their
decisions impact surrounding communities and meet public expectations
(Davis & Blomstrom, 1966). Archie Carroll’s (1999) CSR Pyramid
sought to reconcile four categories of business responsibilities —
economic, legal, ethical, and philanthropic — stating that
organizations’ philanthropic responsibility didn’t begin until
profitability occurred. Newer models attempt to situate CSR and market
value within a single conceptual framework (García-de-Madariaga &
Another recent approach by Tracee Keys, Thomas Malnight, and Kees van
der Graaf (2009) is to use McKinsey & Co.’s matrix, which
pinpoints CSR’s primary objective: to align successful business
practices while pursuing benefits to society. Ultimately, this model
leads to “strategic” CSR that results in high benefits for society and
for business, recognizing that organizational practice’s range and
subsequent benefits to society and the organization also vary accordingly.
The matrix (Figure 1) demonstrates that some efforts have a higher
benefit to society than to business. At the low impact, “pet projects”
level, employees may ask those in the workplace to adopt a family
during the holidays. More significant giving occurs in “philanthropy,”
where the organization may identify a charitable cause to support
throughout year. These examples could be classified as corporate philanthropy.
What Keys and colleagues label as “propaganda” are efforts in which
the benefits to society are low, but high to the organization. For
example,a hotel asking guests to help save the environment by not
having linens washed daily during their multi-day stay may or may not
benefit society. However, the financial savings to the organization is significant.
Finally, those actions of high value to both the organization and
society are defined as “strategic.” These include practices that
center around the organization, from employee volunteerism in human
resources to fair trade supplier relationships; or practices that are
externally focused, from energy and waste saving practices to disaster relief.
SMEs strategically embracing CSR. Although more and more companies
are engaging in and reporting on their CSR activities, commitment
levels are wide ranging, and thus the benefits are too. What also
varies is the size and types of organizations taking strategic action.
While top performers in the private sector are the most documented,
the CSR trend isn’t limited to only the largest of organizations.
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are embracing CSR, however some
scholars suggest fewer are producing annual reports and engaging with
CSR as a strategic initiative (Perälä & Saukkonen, 2017). Yet,
small businesses account for nearly half of the U.S. workforce and
over 30 million organizations (Giese, 2019). Further, of the 5.6
million employer firms in the U.S. in 2016 “the vast majority (88%) of
employer firms have fewer than 20 employees, and nearly 40% of all
enterprises have under $100k in revenue” (JP Morgan Chase & Co.,
n.d.). In fact, 98.2% of firms have fewer than 100 employees (SBE
Council, 2018). Despite their undeniably large part in the U.S.
workforce, the Global Reporting Initiative found that only 10% of SMEs
conduct annual sustainability reports (GRI, 2016). As such, SMEs are
not reaping the same CSR benefits as those that have strategically
implemented and publicly report their philanthropic initiatives.
In 2020, CSR will continue to evolve strategically for SMEs as they
too will benefit their communities and help solve social issues while,
in turn, more successfully achieving their organizational objectives.
Trends in Philanthropy - Full Report
May 5, 2020
By Patty Janes, Ph.D.
In 55 years of life, the only experience that remotely prepares me
for what is happening with the Coronavirus pandemic was two months of
bed rest during a difficult pregnancy. I was unable to support those I
was used to caring for and scared something bad would happen to my
beautiful baby. Doctor’s orders were to stay put, lay on my left side,
and do everything I could to keep us both safe. Day one was
survivable, day two was not.
Communities around the world are facing this test, magnified on an
is affecting the world in more complex ways than I experienced those
eight weeks, I feel a similar concern today.
As I sit at home, preparing to teach university students online, I’m
reflecting on how my bed rest became a gift. I kept both my daughter
and myself safe by doing what I was supposed to. Twenty-two years
later she is about to graduate from the University of Michigan and we
are facing a different kind of bed rest.
We all need to do our part to keep people safe. While I worry about
small business surviving, families staying afloat financially with
reduced hours, etc. I try my best to do what I did many years ago: to
not be all consumed by the negative, and control what I could, doing
my part to keep us safe. I had to do what was needed, and then I had
What can you do to reframe?
Think of all the things we can do during this time to safely
care for others (e.g. a neighbor in need). Think of all the things we
always want to do but never find the time (e.g. clean out closets or
the garage). Then, think of all the things we can do to have unique
fun. Finding ways to enhance your life during this stressful time will
be vital. American’s spend so much time on the television (US Bureau
of Labor Statistics states near 3 hours –
½ of available leisure time), don’t let that get the best of you.
So many organizations have released ways to stay connected remotely,
and many are mentioned in my top ten list below. We’ve put this on
the fridge to find new things to explore and stay connected.
Play. Board games at home or tech games with others.
Keep being social. We broke out Clue last night (thanks USA
Today article), and set the goal to play everything in the game
cabinet at least once. Our other family favorites Telestrations
Learn. To knit, draw (Michigan
native Butch Hartman created Fairly Odd Parents and he teaches you how
to draw Danny Phantom HERE), paint, or play an
instrument etc. Thanks to outlets like YouTube, we can learn so many
things from home. There are a number of sites providing FREE ways for
children to learn including Netflix sources,
companies, and Grand
Valley State University’s Charter School office sharing resources.
Drive. Take a day road trip around Pure Michigan and sight see.
Pack a picnic or go through drive-thrus along the way. Take advantage
of gas prices under $2/gallon. Pick any Lake MI lakeshore - no one is
more than two hours from these natural beauties. Trip
Advisor’s top beaches in Michigan.
Plan. Your next vacation.
You will need a break after this experience and whether a staycation
or travel more than 100 miles from home. Have kids and adults alike
investigate great things to do, see, learn, etc.
Tour. Take a look of interesting
museums or dairy
farms. So many great organizations are pulling together FREE ways
to explore from home including NASA.
Face time or Skype. People you’ve been meaning to
catch up with. Research indicates staying connected with families and
friends is so important. If you don’t believe it, here
are 82M posts in Google about it.
/Exercise. Get fresh air and open windows, walk
around the house. If your environment allows, walk outside, in the
neighborhood, on a trail, in a yard. 6’ of distance is easier outdoors
and fresh air is healing. Organizations from Planet
Fitness to Lulu Lemon
are providing FREE ways to get exercise at home (e.g. yoga).
Cook. Try a new recipe with food items on a
back shelf or in the bottom of the freezer. Share items with neighbors
to try something new and help each other. Create a communal living
environment where everyone helps with meals. It’s social. It’s
helpful. And, someone learns something new. Guaranteed. Thanks to my
InstaPot, I didn’t ruin the
corned beef on St. Patty’s Day for the first time!
Meditate. Download an app to start or end your day in
peaceful, contemplative thought. It works. Great FREE App: WakingUp
Live. Don’t let this situation keep you from
learning, growing, and building relationships. Life doesn’t stop, use
calling services to have regular large family chats, club or
hobby meetings, or continue your volunteer work. Keep moving forward.
We need each other more than ever.
Which of these will you do or have you done? What would you add to
March 24, 2020
By Olivia Rau
Organized in 1981, Circle
Michigan pioneered the very first organization in the country
focusing on the promotion of group travel. Since then, numerous other
states have followed their lead. Circle Michigan is
dedicated exclusively to helping professional tour planners and Circle
Michigan member suppliers meet the challenges unique to the group
During the late 1990s, Circle Michigan lost two members to death from
car accidents: Katherine Schmidt in 1997, who was with the Traverse City Convention &
Visitors Bureau, and Scott Brazil in 1998, who was with Kewadin
Casino of Sault Ste. Marie. Money in the form of memorials was given
in their honor, which was placed into a Michigan scholarship held by
the National Tour Association (NTA), located in Lexington, Kentucky.
Over the next 15 years, the fund grew to over $20,000.00. NTA no
longer desired to retain the monies it was holding so turned the funds
over to Circle Michigan. With this, the Circle Michigan Foundation was
formed on March 23, 2012.
Circle Michigan members volunteer their time to serve on the Circle
Michigan Foundation to oversee two programs (listed below) and plan fundraisers.
Circle Michigan Scholarship.
Michigan Foundation awards an annual college scholarship to a
student attending a Michigan higher education institution, who is
enrolled in a Hospitality and Tourism program. Full or part-time
students may apply. Since 2013, the Circle Michigan Foundation has
awarded $3,500 in scholarships.
Circle Michigan Field Trip Transportation Grant.
Michigan Foundation also awards a transportation grant to any
K through 12 educational institution within the State of Michigan.
This grant is to be used for transportation for field trips. Any
attraction being visited by the school group must be a Circle
Michigan member attraction. Since 2013, the Circle Michigan
Foundation has awarded 20 Michigan schools Field Trip Transportation
Grants totaling $4,253.
One of the 2018 Field Trip Transportation Grant recipients was CLK
Elementary in Calumet. With the grant, 92 second grade students
visited Fort Wilkins State Park as second grade social studies
curriculum focuses on the local community. On this trip, the students
learned why Fort Wilkins was built and what it was like to live there.
Joan Darnell, second grade teacher at CLK Elementary, reported “the
second graders learn and remember a lot better by actually being able
to be at Fort Wilkins. As the school year continues, there are many
times I am reading a book, showing a picture, or discussing our area’s
history and now I am able to bring up something we saw on our trip to
- This year’s Field Trip Transportation Grant Application period is
April 1 – June 20.
- Since 2013, the Circle Michigan Foundation has awarded field trip
transportation grants to 20 Michigan schools.
March 10, 2020