Good Bitches Baking

Baking the world a better place.

gbblogoThere are few things more powerful than selfless love. When we are at our lowest points emotionally, receiving a loving gesture from someone, even a stranger, especially a stranger, can be life changing.

Random acts of kindness are a thing. In fact, New Zealand claims to be the only country in the world with a National Random Acts of Kindness Day. Good on us! But harnessing such a powerful force deserves more than randomness.

Nic Murray and Marie Fitzpatrick
Nic Murray and Marie Fitzpatrick

Nic Murray and Marie Fitzpatrick are the Good Bitches Baking. They have a very simple recipe for spreading happiness throughout society: bake someone a cake, just when they need it most. Recipients include women in refuges, homeless people in shelters, elderly folk in hospice, and many more. Some of the recipients have never tasted home baking. It sounds almost twee, but the universal appeal of receiving something sweet and made with love when you feel you can’t cope, and helping lift an unfortunate stranger out of a shit situation is extremely compelling. I met these Bitches at TEDx Wellington, where I thought they stole the show. Their idea isn’t only worth spreading, it’s running away with them.

It’s so compelling, that in the last 18 months they’ve set up 10 chapters of Bitches in New Zealand from Whangarei to Invercargill, and have another 18 chapters waiting to form. They’re struggling to cope with demand. They have no plans to expand overseas at this stage, but are happy to share their intellectual property with anyone who wants to take their model global.

The Good Bitches philosophy is based on the simple ideas that “doing something is better than doing nothing”, and that everything turning to shit is not an inevitability. We all have the power within us to positively affect the world around us, and the Good Bitches provide an easy to use template for making people happy.

Doing something is better than doing nothing. Everything turning to shit is not an inevitability.

Nic says, “Baking is something people enjoy doing anyway, it’s not a hardship. There’s a widespread desire in the community to ‘do good things’, but people don’t know where to start – they don’t know if they have permission to do something personal for a stranger.”

Marie adds, “Just doing something leads onto doing other things too.  There’s a common story for Bitches: it all starts with a batch of scones, and then they find other needs that they can fill in their community. It gets people thinking about ways they can help others, beyond putting money in a box or even baking.”

The Good Bitches system is designed so that people can do as little or as much as they can fit into their lives. They feel like they’re contributing to their communities, but also to something much bigger. And the connection that Bitches have to each other helps strengthen the community too. When bitches get together, there’s lots of storytelling and heartfelt discussion – shared purpose for a good cause.

They are changing peoples lives – and it’s a virtuous cycle. One Wellington recipient was recovering from domestic violence in a Women’s Refuge, and said that the notion that a stranger cared enough about her to bake her a cake just to cheer her up was life-changing. Since then, she’s become a Bitch herself, and now bakes for others – this has been an important part of her healing process.

They’ve now reached an inflection point where runaway growth is threatening to outstrip their ability to service their community.

“We’re staffed by volunteers, who can only spare a few hours per week each,  and sometimes they bite off more than they can chew. In people’s busy lives, especially women juggling careers and whānau, volunteer work can’t always take top priority. As we grow as an organisation helping thousands of Bitches do great things in their communities, we need a professional coordinator or two being paid for their efforts so that this work gets the priority it deserves, and keep up our standards for the quality and timeliness of the support we provide.”

Having a paid coordinator would free up the founders to focus on outreach, growth, and telling the story.

Nic and Marie know all about juggling. They both have full time jobs as project managers.  Nic works with ACC and NZTA on young driver safety, and Marie helps organisations to be compliant with the new Health and Safety legislation.

But hiring paid staff requires funding. Their dream is to be sustainably funded through a combination of grants, government funding, private donations, and branded merchandise. Running a social enterprise is tough, even when you’re clearly making as big a difference as the Bitches are.

Marie says, “to some extent, we’ve been making shit up as we go along, but we’re continually lifting our game. The future is really exciting, but to grow and really make the most of this opportunity we’ll need to be strategic, plan carefully, and support our chapters well.”

You can make a personal donation on the Good Bitches Baking’s Givealittle page.

Don’t miss the other TEDxWelly 2016 Videos – they’re well worth watching!