Dan and Whit's: Rounding Up
"Thanks for keeping it local,” says Dan Fraser of Dan and Whit’s General Store in Norwich VT. It’s not just about the shopping. It is also about the giving. Their newest project for helping Upper Valley non-profit organizations is Round Up.
Much like the Pennies for Change at the Co-op Food Stores, shoppers at Dan and Whit's can donate each time they shop by authorizing the cashier to round up the total to the nearest dollar. Bought $21.32 worth of groceries? Say yes to the Round Up and easily donate $.68 toward a local community organization. A total of $79.75 for a new bird feeder and seed to fill it? Rounding up puts a quarter in the do-good till.
According to Fraser, Dan and Whit’s started the program in late February 2017 because “we love to help non-profits, and heard that other places were doing it.” Moreover, “customers requested it.” Using any payment method, shoppers can choose to participate or not with each transaction, “as they feel moved.”
Proceeds are tallied each month and distributed
among organizations chosen and publicized beforehand so that shoppers know where
their donations are going. The organizations are chosen by Dan and Whit’s and
its customers. Fraser says that the store picks one or two, and then draws from
customer requests. Customers are encouraged to submit suggestions by writing
the name of a preferred non-profit on the back of any sales receipt totaling
$10 or more.
For this month, proceeds will be divided among Willing Hands, the Special Needs Support Center, and Planned Parenthood. Turning Point, The Norwich Historical Society, and the Cameo Arts Foundation (it brings music to communities in Vermont and New Hampshire) will receive the still-being-calculated monies donated in April. The first full month of the program—March—saw total donations of approximately $2400.
Raising money for the community is not new to Dan and Whit’s. According to the website of the Upper Valley Haven, “the 19 Days of Norwich, 1% for the Haven Program, began in 2013 when a customer went into Dan and Whit’s and said that the Upper Valley Haven food shelf was nearly bare. There was no food for hungry people, and the few donations were immediately taken . . .A few days later, Dan Fraser landed on an idea . . . Dan and Whit’s would donate 1% of sales for the first 19 days of December.” Fraser cajoled other area businesses to join in and during that first year, $10,000 was raised for the Haven. Totals have gone up every year since then with over 100 local businesses participating in 2016; last year's donations were matched by a grant from The Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation.
Along with the Co-op’s Pennies for Change program—about which I have previously written and which has been wildly successful—Round Up works because it’s easy, and allows a customer to give just a little each time. Spare change multiplied by thousands of transactions equals real dollars. The fact that Dan and Whit’s customers can help to choose the recipient organizations gives them some additional skin in the game.
Surely no one in the Upper Valley needs a map to Dan and Whit’s, located on Main Street with gas pumps in front. You can take your shopping list there with confidence, because as the sign in the front window famously says, “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.” A newer sign is more philosophical, and appropriate: Hate Does Not Grow In The Rocky Soil of Norwich, Vermont.
Susan B. Apel, writer, ArtfulEdge