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Donor Story: Steve Gunn, small business owner, practices generosity beyond financial contributions

In 2001, Steve Gunn decided to open his car wash business – but it was in 2013, the year he had children, that he was inspired to make  his work more meaningful. That is when he decided to start raising funds for local charities by incorporating a Penny Power Program.

The Penny Power Program gives customers the option to donate the extra penny of their purchase, which is also matched by Gunn’s Wash Pointe Car Wash. With four metro-Detroit locations that combined serve more than 320,000 customers annually, the program can total nearly $6,000 funds per year that are donated directly to important causes and organizations, including The Children’s Foundation.

“I wanted my children to see their father leading by example and giving to those in need,” said Gunn. “High volumes of pennies add up to thousands of dollars. I have learned a good business model should have a charitable giving component. It makes the work more fulfilling and customers value businesses that give back.”

Gunn chose The Children’s Foundation as a charitable recipient because of its imperative and universal mission. After having his own children, he learned to understand the significance of supporting youth needs and has gotten increasingly involved in The Children’s Foundation efforts.

In 2019, he co-founded a new group at The Foundation called Entrepreneurs for Kids (E4K). E4K is a network of small-business owners who can learn from one another as they grow in their own entrepreneurial efforts, and simultaneously lift The Foundation mission and raise funds via respective business models.

“Small businesses make up the vast majority of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, but I’ve learned The Foundation receives most of its gifts from corporations. By coming together, we can generate more funds and make a bigger difference for kids in need.”

Taking it one step further, Gunn plans for E4K to work directly with youth to mentor and encourage them to dream big and turn an idea into reality.

“At one point, each small business owner has had someone to push them to take that leap. In certain communities, kids might have a goal and the drive, but they are missing that person to make them believe it is possible. That’s what E4K exists to be – there to inspire and cultivate the next generation of entrepreneurs and small business owners.”

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