Christmas Tree Cakes or Zebra Cakes, Why Does It Matter to Your Giving?

by | Nov 30, 2021

Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cakes arrived on shelves on time this year. Move over Zebra Cakes for those golden cake layers, smooth crème, classic white frosting with red stripes, and red and green sprinkles.

Hardcore Little Debbie Cakes lovers might argue there is little difference between the two. And they might be correct since the yellow cake, creamy inside layer, and black and white frosting vs. white with red stripes frosting seem to taste the same, according to a YouTube blind-test conducted by experts – children, of course. The crunchy sprinkles seem to be the difference for the child connoisseur.

As for the adults, they’re known to have intense debates over Little Debbie on Facebook and Twitter. For example, in 2017, in the attention-getting #OneGottaGo tweet, the social marketing team at Little Debbie asked which should be eliminated from the line-up: Christmas Tree Cakes, Oatmeal Cream Pies, Nutty Buddy bars or Honey Buns.

7,400 tweets later, Little Debbie finally admitted there were no plans to eliminate anyone’s favorite. However, one fan voted to let the Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cake go during the outcry because it was the same as the Zebra Cake, so there would be no actual loss.

We might create another stir by asking the age-old question: Does the Zebra Cake possess white stripes laid beside black stripes or black stripes on top of the white icing? But, of course, that’s not too far from the question do zebras have black stripes on white fur or white stripes on black fur?

I’ll leave you to search Google, where you will not discover a simple answer. I have a similar experience every time I search for an organization’s mission statement that’s new to me.

What’s a Zebra Have To Do With Mission Statements?

I often set the new ones aside to research before I make a final decision. And that’s where I find my zebra questions. Is the stripe black on white or white on black? Is the Mission clear or broad and vague?

I search their website’s Home page, About page, dropdowns, and sometimes the map at the bottom of the site. I appreciate the organization that helps me find it quickly and is clear in their purpose and what they do.

The Who, What, and Why Does Matter

Some mission statements are so broad and vague that almost any service they provide or anyone they serve seems to fit. Others are specific, clearly identifying what they do and why.

Who, what and how – that’s what I want to know? The Mission is about who they serve and what they do to impact those they serve. It’s the what and the how they go about accomplishing their vision. The vision is what they ultimately hope to achieve, the purpose for the organization’s existence.

Focus Is Staying On Mission

My next question: Are they still “on mission?” Do the stories they tell and the programs they describe fit into the purpose and intent of the mission statement? Or do they seem to be drifting away from the Mission?

Let’s look at the National Alliance to End Homelessness. In their mission statement, they state their “sole purpose is to end homelessness in the U.S. They go on to say, “We use research and data to find solutions to homelessness; we work with federal and local partners to create a solid base of policies and resources that support those solutions, and then we help communities implement them.” So their purpose is clear, their how is research and data, they work with partners, and assist local communities. Their work is complex, but the goal is clear.

A deeper dive into their website indicates they are focused and obviously on Mission.

Keep Your Focus, Stay on Your Mission

What about your Mission? All philanthropy is personal, at the intersection of values and resources. As you add new organizations to your giving mix, take time to review the who, what, and why.

Does it matter whether it’s a Little Debbie Christmas Cake or a Zebra Cake? Of course, it matters. Do you want the crunch or not? If you want to donate to a specific type of service or impact a select group of individuals – family, children, seniors, homeless, hungry, jobless – look for it in the Mission and services that follow it.

Research tells us that giving to causes we care about leaves a “warm glow” effect on the brain. But, unfortunately, the calendar is already running out on this year’s effect.

Speaking of running out, I hear that Little Debbie Christmas Tree Cake ice cream is in grocery stores while supplies last.

May I suggest a Little Debbie cake while you do your giving this year – you pick – Christmas Tree Cake or Zebra Cake. Mix a little mission in and enjoy the warm glow.

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