Eleven cents doesn’t seem like much but when you multiply that a billion times it becomes a serious piece of change. Such is the case with the USPS Breast Cancer stamp, a semi-postal issue that is sold at a premium price. The Post Office was mandated by Congress to issue the stamp in 1997 (and Congress continues to renew it) as it remains a very successful way of raising research funds. Over 1.07 billion stamps have been sold, raising $91.5 million for the National Institutes of Health and the Medical Research Program at the Department of Defense.

Because of the stamp’s popularity, other semi-postal issues have been issued, including Vanishing Species (raising over $6 million) and Alzheimer’s and PTSD research (raising about $1 million each). All are examples of “conscientious consumption” where consumers voluntarily pay a premium to make a donation beyond the value of their goods.

Like the Post Office, other organizations sell products with a portion of the proceeds earmarked for a cause. Several retailers offer the opportunity for customers to round-up their change or make a donation when they check out. Nonprofits often provide a donation option on their online event registrations or annual membership renewal forms. The goal is to make it easy to contribute in order to leverage the volume into something meaningful.

How can you adjust your offerings to help your clientele make small contributions that combine to make a large difference? Little does equal big if it occurs often enough.


I'm the chief connector at leadership dots where I serve as "the string" for individuals and organizations. Like stringing pearls together to make a necklace, "being the string" is an intentional way of thinking and behaving – making linkages between things that otherwise appear random or unconnected – whether that be supervising a staff, completing a dissertation or advancing a project in the workplace. I share daily leadership dots on my blog to provide examples of “the string” in action. I use the string philosophy through coaching, consulting and teaching to help others build capacity in themselves and their organizations. I craft analogies and metaphors that help people comprehend complex topics and understand their role in the system. My favorite work involves helping those new to supervision or newly promoted supervisors build confidence and learn the skills necessary to effectively lead their team.

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