Kids "sell" lemonade for free to help the community

In 1992 I discovered a game called Capitalist Pig, a Mac based business simulation. It was simple in its approach yet still allowed for discovery of running a business. Beside the software, the designers included a funny and yet practical book with business terms explained through selling lemonade. It told the story of starting a company whose initial core product is lemonade and expanded to talking about franchising, hiring employees, and competition.

I was reminded of this book this morning when I was on my way home from IUPUI. On the corner of Barn Hill and Michigan, a group of summer students from the IUPUI Center For Young Children (CYC) (ages 5 to 7) were waving a banner and shouting "Free Lemonade! Free Lemonade!". I recognized the teacher, Mr. Patrick, and pulled up to see what was up. The kids were on a campus field trip to "sell lemonade". However, their tactic was to give the lemonade away and ask for donations for kids programs! According to my son (he attends summer camp at IUPUI CYC) they raised about $190 today!

This is an interesting connection; Yesterday I spent time with some friends in the Smaller Indiana Indy Business Book Club discussing Smaller Indiana's role in the community. One of the questions on Pat Coyle's mind is if Smaller Indiana might be better as a non-profit entity or as a full speed, for profit business. The really interesting dialog was what Smaller Indiana is doing today: groups of people are meeting, going to events together, putting on events, having coffee, etc. The people within Smaller Indiana are pulling together for common activities, interested in helping others, and seeking to make a living (make money).

The connection from Capitalist Pig, to IUPUI CYC kids giving away lemonade to make money, to Smaller Indiana? Smaller Indiana is "giving away" the pipes (lemonade) to connect people and conversations. These people happen to be a pool of people that non-profits like to engage for community good (looking for volunteers, donations, ideas, and action : the donation). Smaller Indiana is a conduit to these engaged people. Non-profits need to invest in Smaller Indiana because the "pipes" of conversations, ideas, and actions is leading to community good.

Another angle to think about: for non-profits to engage a marketing or PR firm to create messages and marketing campaigns to engage people would cost more than if the pipes of conversations were put in place for free and have community people utilize them. Something to think about.

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2 Responses:

Thanks for crystalizing the idea, John. I like they way you've connected the dots.

I love this idea. I'm always looking for ways for my kids to feel "socially relevant". I've thought of going door to door collecting pop-cans, and using the refunds to help people.

My daughter asked to sell lemonade just this weekend, but I like the idea of collecting donations for charity better. I'm sure that with a little "brainstorming" this could be expanded upon heavily!

(like I've always wanted to hangout in the local emergency room if I'm out late at night and hand out bottled water and snacks. It's the most horrible place to be...)