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Lauren Ott | Toronto | Social Component!!

Over the past five years, I’ve noticed a shift in the world of philanthropy and making an impact. There is an inherent need for people to see where their money is going when they donate to a charity, how they can make a difference in their everyday choices as a consumer and understanding as an employee what role the corporate world has on making our world a better place. I believe that the future of giving back lies in social enterprise. I recently left my role as Director of Global Business Development at WE (formerly known as Free The Children) to be a full-time social entrepreneur as the Chief Kits Officer of Kits for a Cause. Kits for a Cause was founded by Jody Steinhauer, President of Bargains Group. When Jody and I first met we spoke about the need for a transparent, FUN, and engaging way for people to give back to a local charity while connecting with the cause that they are passionate about. The idea to officially launch Kits for a Cause was an easy decision because together we can change the way that business engages their team, support local communities and align their cause to their core values. We are experts in meaningful engagement! In three easy steps, your group will make a difference in your local community while being engaged and have a great time hosting a Kit packing event.

Step One: We match you to a charity in your neighbourhood that supports the cause you’re most passionate about. If you don’t have a cause we teach you how to engage your team from the start by choosing one that aligns with your group and core values.

Step Two: We send you custom Kit supplies based on your budget, how many people are taking part and what the charity needs!

Step Three: Using our ToolKit as a resource guide you host a Kit packing event that engages your group, introduces them to the charity and makes an incredible difference on your local community.

What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?

Many people associate an organization that’s main focus is giving back to the local community as a charity. We often get asked is Kits for a Cause a charity or a business? We are a social enterprise that is for profit, for the purpose. Our main challenge has been ensuring that people understand we make it easy, affordable, and FUN to bring together a group and help a local charity. We call this hurdle the “too good to be true” syndrome! When we meet charities who are interested in becoming a charitable partner they often ask, so what’s the catch? It is a 100% free for a charity to become a partner because our goal is that charities never have to buy supplies from our wholesale business ever again!

What books are you currently reading?

I rarely have time to read, but I spend a lot of time listening to podcasts while I’m going from meeting to meeting or reluctantly washing dishes!

Here are my top picks:

The Daily

Pod Save America

Metro Morning & CBC Power and Politics

Harvard Business Review

(Guilty Pleasure - Watch What Happens Live)

For the record, the last book I read was Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

And your recommendation for entrepreneurs to read?

Banker to the Poor, Muhammad Yunus (Nobel Laureate)

Start Something That Matters, Blake Mycoskie (Founder of TOMS)

The Yes Book, Clive Rich (Leading Negotiator for Sony, Apple, Yahoo, etc)

Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits?

How did you handle it?

As the first child in my family to go to university, many of my professional career decisions have been firsts for my family. This has taught me to build strong mentorship relationships with professionals that I admire and aspire to learn from. I think people have a hard time understanding why someone would want to ver off the traditional professional path, but with that being said I have the most supportive network around me who has continued to stand behind every decision I’ve made in my career.

What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?

Kits for a Cause is accessible - we support any cause, any group size, any budget, any community across Canada.

What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?

Collaboration is the key to everything.

What advice would you give to an upcoming entrepreneur locally and internationally?

Social enterprises are often overlooked by big corporate, but there is so much opportunity for growth. When your business provides social good and answers the needs of your customers you will succeed and be more profitable. Consider building a social component into your business’ DNA from day one because, in a world of so much choice, people will always choose the company that allows them to make a difference by choosing you

Helping Others!


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