December 31, 2010; Source: Entrepreneur | A cookie called “sweet” probably is enough of an enticement to get people to buy. But the Dancing Deer Baking Co. adds even more to sweeten the deal. For every item purchased from its Sweet Home line, the Boston-based baker donates 35 percent of the retail price to One Family, a nonprofit that works to end homelessness in Massachusetts.

Buy a $25.95 tin of gingerbread cookies, One Family gets $9. Spend $126.95 on 40 dark chocolate cookies and your purchase produces a $44 gift. Giving back has been part of Dancing Deer’s business model since 1994, the year it opened for business. According to former CEO Trish Karter, “I wanted to do something that was really about having philanthropy in the core of our business.”

It’s a decision that has proven both rewarding in terms of profits and the good feeling that comes from giving back. Says Karter, “At a basic business profitability level you’re going to create a better brand and a better company if you give people something higher to aspire to than just turning a positive cash flow.”

Karter also says that knowing their purchases are helping One Family achieve its mission makes for good and lasting relationships with customers. “They (customers) understand that we care about something more than just making money off the cookies we sell them. There’s nothing wrong with making money. But it’s nice to add something else bigger and better to it.” Put another way, this is the kind of sweetheart deal to which no one can possibly object.—Bruce Trachtenberg