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Mini-cast 161: EOX and Giving Tuesday

The EsOp Podcast logo; EOX - the Employee Ownership Expansion Network - and Giving Tuesday, with Cher Molle

Bret Keisling is joined by Cher Mollé, director of development for the Employee Ownership Expansion Network (EOX), who discusses how donations of all sizes on Giving Tuesday (Nov. 30, 2021) will help build and support state centers and improve EO education nationwide.

... or watch the video of Mini-cast Episode 161 below.


Mini-cast 161 Transcript

[00:00:00] Bret Keisling: Welcome to the ESOP Mini-cast. Thank you so much for listening. My name is Bret Keisling, and as it says on my business cards, I'm a passionate advocate for employee ownership. On our podcast and on the Mini-cast, we have talked about all of the great things that have happened in employee ownership in October for Employee Ownership Month. And we're not done talking about it!

On October 22nd, there was a press release: the Employee Ownership Expansion Network, EOX, responsible for state centers popping up all over the country, announced that they had hired their first ever Director of Development, Cher Mollé.

Cher has a significant background in community development and fundraising and is going to be an important part of the growth of EOX, and EOX is an important part of the growth of employee ownership. And I am so pleased to welcome onto the Mini-cast, Cher Mollé.

Cher, thanks so much for coming on.

[00:01:03] Cher Mollé: Thank you, Bret, for having me and thank you for the introduction.

[00:01:06] Bret Keisling: So, we will talk more about you in a moment, but EOX is participating in Giving Tuesday and you are the director of development for EOX. So, if it's okay with you, Cher, let's just jump right into the EOX business and then we'll circle back afterwards and talk a little bit more. Is that okay?

[00:01:24] Cher Mollé: Sure. So, Giving Tuesday is always the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. So, this year, Giving Tuesday is this Tuesday, November 30th, 2021. It's an all-day global giving event. Everybody around the world is encouraged to donate to the non-profit organizations that matter most to them; something that they are maybe personally connected to or something that they care about because they're involved in it in their community perhaps, or something that matters to them because they're involved in it through their work, perhaps.

So, it's a day of global giving where everyone is encouraged to give back, which is, you know, the spirit of Thanksgiving and of the holiday season in general. That's where Giving Tuesday comes from.

[00:02:07] Bret Keisling: I love that. It is the season to be thankful. It is the season for gratitude. Tell us a little bit about what you're doing specifically for EOX.

[00:02:17] Cher Mollé: So, Employee Ownership Expansion Network, we are a national nonprofit. We were formed in 2018, started becoming really active in 2019 and have been since, and our mission is to significantly expand employee ownership across the United States. And we do that by establishing a state center network.

So, what we're doing is opening state centers across the United States. We have ten open now, and we have one more opening very soon and it's a boots on the ground approach, a grassroots approach to expanding employee ownership throughout the United States because we see employee ownership as a tool to help reduce income inequality, to help close wealth gaps, to help increase community wealth, local wealth, and to create a more vibrant participatory economy in the United States.

[00:03:09] Bret Keisling: About a year ago, Steve Storkan the executive director of EOX, was on the podcast and talked. Actually, he's been on twice he was on once himself, and then he was on with Jenn Krieger, who is the chair of the board and one of the founders of the Texas Center for Employee Ownership.

So, I'd ask our listeners to go into our archives,, search for "Storkan." In terms of the backstory for EOX, they're going to be able to hear how you guys do what you do and that sort of thing.

[00:03:38] Cher Mollé: Yes, yes.

[00:03:39] Bret Keisling: So, with Giving Tuesday, I imagine there are two different phases, Cher. One is supporting generally EOX the administrative stuff, the home office, if you will. And the other is individual state centers. Is there any difference in the giving? Are there earmarks? Are there whatever? Or is it just donate to EOX and you guys are going to do what you do?

[00:03:58] Cher Mollé: Yeah so, for Giving Tuesday, it's really just donate to Employee Ownership Expansion Network, and we will use the funds that we received where they're most needed. And that's, you know, a lot of nonprofits kind of do it that way on Giving Tuesday. So, it's not a specific fund, but we do, internally, have specific funds set up for each state center.

But yes, for Giving Tuesday, it's more give to Employee Ownership Expansion Network. We're going to use that money to then support the state centers that we have already opened, and to continue expanding across the United States and open more state centers.

[00:04:31] Bret Keisling: And here is my hope, Cher, and I like to come at things from multiple directions. If there is a state center in your state, support their work and donate to EOX. And if there's not a state center in your state support the work of bringing the state center to your state and donate to EOX.

[00:04:51] Cher Mollé: Yes, absolutely. And it's true because that's part of the work that we do is expanding across the United States, right? It's in our name, Employee Ownership Expansion Network. And so, if there's not a state center in your state yet, we are trying to put one there! So, the more funding that we have to do that, and we're a nonprofit organization so we rely on that funding. But the more funding we have to do that the more likely we'll be able to open that state center in your state. And if you want to get involved with it, once it's open, if you want to help us get it open, we welcome that as well. But the funding is really the most critical piece to get it open.

[00:05:28] Bret Keisling: One of the things that Steve had talked about on the podcast is a lot of the state centers have come around, and again, just talking about my friend Jenn Krieger in Texas, because folks reach out to Steve or he makes contact and they become ambassadors.

So, I think if you're interested in growing employee ownership in your state, one of the best things to do is, donate and also say, hey, I'd love to be an ambassador. Let me know. Like we're talking about the financial support and that is critical, but it's also a good time to say, hey, I'm willing to put my own boots on the ground.

[00:05:58] Cher Mollé: Exactly. Employee ownership, and you've spoken about this on the podcast, it has the potential to be a nationwide movement. And why does it have the potential to be a nationwide movement? Okay, because it's about workers, right? At its heart, it's about workers. We're trying to create a better economy where folks are more fulfilled by their jobs, where they're treated more fairly at their jobs, and where we're reducing income inequality and wealth disparity.

At its heart, it's about workers. So, it has the potential to become a nationwide movement, but the public isn't fully aware of it yet and so we need to do that work and the best way to do that work, we at Employee Ownership Expansion Network feel, is to get those boots on the ground and start raising awareness, which is really what that comes down to. Raising awareness, doing education, getting in front of business owners, getting in front of economic and community development professionals, letting them know that employee ownership is an option when it comes time to, for instance, retire, instead of selling your business or closing your business, sell it to your employees.

And so we just need to, there are a lot of people in the field now who are passionate about it, and I think there are a lot of people out there who would be passionate about it if they knew about it, who aren't already involved.

[00:07:14] Bret Keisling: As you referenced, I've done a number of podcasts and even recently mini-casts about EO becoming a movement and we're not going to know we're a movement until after it happens, but I happen to think that 2021 could be the year down the road where we say this was pivotal. And on the podcast, just as part of Employee Ownership Month, EO Equals has a new campaign of awareness, the Ownership America launched as a lobbying organization, and EOX has added a director of development.

So, I think there's a lot coming together towards the movement. And I do want to chat a little bit about your background, which fits into to what we're talking about.

But first let's just tie up one or two pieces on the giving and I'd like to share what I do. And for the listeners, I swear, this is not me trying to brag or whatever. I've been in employee ownership for 15 years and for my first 10 or 11 years or so, pretty much through my business Cap Trustees, we supported a couple of the big organizations and was happy to do that financially. In the last couple of years as I've focused purely on the podcast and as I work really hard to be Switzerland, I support everybody in that sort of thing. What I've done is taken what were donations and again, they're very modest. But I've divvied it up among four or five, maybe even six, employee ownership organizations, because I want to send the message you have supporters. And I also want to be able to say things on the podcast with credibility, you should give it organizations. And I just feel a little better if I have.

Could you speak to a little bit, boy. If somebody reached out Tuesday and gave you 25 grand, you would be thrilled. Talk about the importance of a hundred dollars donation or even a fifty-dollar donation. Can you talk about the importance of giving what you can?

[00:09:06] Cher Mollé: Absolutely. I'm a big advocate of giving what you can. Because, as it turns out, it's actually - those $25,000 donations are incredible and we welcome them of course, as a nonprofit organization, of course, as a small nonprofit organization - but as it turns out, it's actually people that don't have the capacity to give $25,000 that are funding nonprofit organizations. So, it's more people giving a little bit each, okay? And so, if everybody gives 25 or 50 or a hundred or even five, $5, if that's all you have, the more people who do it, the more, one financially healthy and stable, we are as a nonprofit organization, because then we have a large base of supporters, but we're also spreading the message because there are more people giving. And the more people we can reach, and the more people who are willing to give to us, that shows me that there are more people who support employee ownership more broadly.

And so if you can only give 5, 10, 25, 50 dollars, that's wonderful and we welcome it. And your gift is no less valuable than someone who can give $25,000. We appreciate anybody giving whatever they can, and it all goes in this pool of money that we then spend to open these state centers throughout the United States and get those boots on the ground and spread the message and work with businesses.

[00:10:30] Bret Keisling: And Cher, let me close up and we'll wrap up this not-quite-so-mini Mini-cast and simply say this. And I would like everybody to look at EOX and I would like you to make donations if you're able, and I will commit to you on the Mini-cast, and again it's not gratuitous, it's just to say, if I can do it, you can, too. I'm going to go and for Giving Tuesday, I will make a modest donation to EOX, so that I can say that I did that. But I'm also going to make the donation to some of the other organizations that I support and there are four or five of them.

We on our show notes are going to highlight EOX, but we are going to include some links of some of the other organizations that have it because as somebody who supports everybody in employee ownership and my team at the Podcast Network, we are careful to support everybody because we want to support everybody. I do want the listeners to know that there will be some other options.

Employee Ownership Giving Tuesday Guide:

Employee Ownership Expansion Network (EOX)

Easy to give any amount both online or on their EOX Facebook Giving Tuesday page.

Project Equity

Democracy Collaborative

Vermont Employee Ownership Center


[00:11:22] Cher Mollé: Yeah, and we're not saying only give to us, make us your only nonprofit. No, we're not saying that. We understand that people care about a wide variety of causes and a wide variety of nonprofits in a certain space. But we would certainly appreciate your donation. If you are dividing up what you can give for the year between multiple organizations. That's wonderful. We just want you to be involved.

[00:11:43] Bret Keisling: And Cher, then the final note, and this is just for all of my friends at all of the other organizations who may be saying why didn't we do a Mini-cast on them? And this is actually true. Cher, you reached out to me last week and said, hey, could we do a Mini-cast? And I was like, oh my goodness, yes! First of all, thank you for reaching out. It's a little bit self-serving and gratuitous, but organizations, if you want us at the Podcast Network to support what you're doing, reach out and say, hey, Bret, will you support what we're doing? And the answer is going to be yes.

Cher, this was your first visit to the podcast and the Mini-cast. And I hope and suspect that there will be more visits. What do you think? Was this okay for you?

[00:12:20] Cher Mollé: This was great. Thank you. And I will be back with you we'll have me.

[00:12:23] Bret Keisling: Absolutely. All right. I would like to thank my guest, Cher Mollé of the Employee Ownership Expansion Network, EOX. You're going to find all of the information on our website. Give to EOX give to other organizations and also remember, if I may, if you're listening to this on Black Friday, the holiday season isn't really about how much we can buy. Let's try and do better this year.

My thanks again to Cher. Thank you so much for listening. I appreciate you very much. This is Bret Keisling; be well.


[00:05:34] Bitsy McCann: We'd love to hear from you. You can find us on Facebook at EO Podcast Network and on Twitter @ESOPPodcast. This podcast has been produced by Bret Keisling for the EO Podcast Network, production assistance by Victoria Huerta, original music composed by Max Keisling, branding and marketing by BitsyPlus Design, and I'm Bitsy McCann.

Standard Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are my own and don't represent those of my own firms or the organizations to which I belong. Nothing in the podcast should be construed as guidance or advice of any kind in any field and the fact that I mentioned an organizational website or an advocate or a company on a podcast does not reflect an endorsement, but if you've heard your name or your group's name mentioned on this podcast, I'd love to have you come on and talk about it yourself.

A note on the transcript: This transcript was produced by Descript, an automated transcription service. While it has been reviewed by The EsOp Podcast, we can not guarantee the accuracy of the transcription. Please refer to the original audio when citing sources.


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