CEDARBURG — More and more open signs are appearing everyday as Cedarburg merchants reopen their doors for business.

“COVID-19 really threw all of us a curveball,” said Marina Carlson, KOHA advisor. “It will take time for all of us to get used to a new normal…but we’ll be back!”

KOHA, a small business itself, was created with the vision to strengthen communities by providing a tool to link local buying with local giving. They are distributing “Proud to be OPEN” signs to area businesses.

“These signs are meant to send a unified ‘OPEN for Business’ message,” Carlson said. “Our hope is that when shoppers see a blue sign they know the store is open again…even if it’s temporarily closed for a lunch break or overnight.”

Diligent practices of social distancing, mask wearing, and hand washing, have helped flatten the curve. Now, as people come out of quarantine, businesses, non-profit organizations, and schools are faced with new, uncharted challenges and opportunities. “KOHA is ready to help,” she continued.

In a recent Cedarburg Chamber survey, 60% of local businesses said it will take six months for them to get back to their pre-COVID sales. One-third believe it will take a year. On the flipside, non-profit groups, who rely on support from local businesses and local fundraisers, only have one to three months of operating cash flow on hand.

“Local groups and businesses need each other now more than ever,” Carlson said.

Simply put, KOHA provides an app for customers to turn a portion of their purchase into a donation to the charity of their choice. The key to making this program work is for local businesses, non-profits, and schools to be on the KOHA network.

“We’ve seen this work many times,” Carlson said. “Charities and schools drive their members to make purchases at KOHA businesses which result in businesses giving much needed funds back to those charities and schools.”

This “new” way of giving is much welcomed by local businesses. Local businesses can be generous but there’s a limit to generosity when there is no cash flow. “KOHA provides the means for businesses to give (when a sale is made) instead of giving away (when a charity asks without a sale),” Carlson explained. “People buy, local businesses give, the community wins.”

Since January, the KOHA team has been working with local businesses, charities, and the Cedarburg Chamber to introduce its unique fundraising program. “Things didn’t quite work out as planned,” Carlson concluded. “But, we’re here now…and more than ever, feel the urgency to get businesses, non-profit organizations, and schools set up in the network so the helping can begin.” To learn more about KOHA, visit kohafundraising.com. For an immediate need or to request a “Proud to be OPEN” sign, email more@koha.life.

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