Spend a Ben is back — virtually.
The promotion to support local businesses and nonprofits was launched in 2014 following the Carlton Complex Fire, when people were encouraged to spend a “Ben” — slang for a $100 bill — within the community.
The Methow Conservancy and TwispWorks have teamed up to jump-start the Spend A Ben campaign again, with the emphasis shifting to online shopping, according to a joint press release.
“Promoting the economic vitality of our Methow Valley business and nonprofit community is at the core of TwispWorks’ mission,” TwispWorks Executive Director Don Linnertz said in the release. “Partnering with the Methow Conservancy in this popular program is a great way we can collectively encourage people to support local businesses even if they aren’t open as usual.”
The two organizations are counting on people remembering the original campaign and its impact.
“We knew at that time that local businesses were hurting and we thought it would be helpful to have a campaign to remind people to pledge to spend some money in the Methow after the fires,” said Jason Paulsen, Methow Conservancy Executive Director. “It was a big hit.”
“Once we realized that the COVID-19 pandemic was going to have such a significant impact on the local economy, we started talking to TwispWorks about partnering up to bring the Spend a Ben campaign back,” Paulsen continued. “We’ve adapted it a bit so that the focus is on providing an on-line directory so people can spend their Bens from the safety of their own homes.”
The Spend-a-Ben website, http://www.spendabenmethow.org, is where local supporters can make donations, buy gift certificates, or purchase merchandise. More than 50 local businesses and nonprofits are on the business directory, although the website acknowledges, “We’re sure any business in the Methow Valley would appreciate your support, so don’t feel limited to just this list.”
The campaign is adding businesses every day. On the site, people can “pledge” to spend-a-Ben in the Methow and have their name added to a growing list of “spenders.”
The name comes from a reference to Benjamin Franklin, who graces the $100 bill. “Of course, people don’t have to spend a Ben — a half-Ben or five Bens works, too,” Paulsen said.
Both TwispWorks and the Methow Conservancy see the campaign as a way to give back to a business and nonprofit community that has long supported their missions, according to the press release.
“Encouraging the Methow Valley community to reach out and support local businesses and nonprofits is the perfect complement to TwispWorks’ ongoing efforts to reach out and connect businesses to resources emerging as a result of this crisis,” Linnertz said.
“It may seem odd at first to have a conservation organization supporting a campaign for the local economy but the logic is clear to us,” said Paulsen. “We exist to inspire people to care for the land and the simple truth is people can’t care for the land if they can’t care for their families.”