I used to wait tables at an Applebees in Tallahassee, Florida, in the mid-1990s. Although the customers tipped me very well, those tips were just enough to cover groceries, gas, and pay my third of the rent. I was young, single, and unencumbered with the typical trappings of adult life.  Reality didn’t stress me out in my early twenties. Still, I was sometimes haunted by the fact that I would never be able to buy a nice home, take a real vacation, or handle any major unexpected expenses with what I earned waiting tables. And I watched many of my coworkers struggle to provide for their children. Sudden large medical bills completely devasted them, too. I had other career aspirations but realized a few twists of fate could easily put me in a position where life wasn’t so rosy. I vowed that one day after I “made it,” I would hand out big, fat tips to random strangers working in the service industry.

I often tried to convince a few big philanthropists to adopt my idea as their own, but no one was ever interested.  In fact, they would often comment about how they gave someone a 100% tip, such as $20 on a $20 tab one time – like I was supposed to be impressed by their generosity. (And yes, a 100% tip is nice, but I was trying to convince them to give away life-changing money.)

Over the decades, I have given out the occasional $100 tip on a tiny tab. It always felt great, but those times also reminded me that I had not fulfilled the promise I made to become the philanthropist who dolled out much bigger, life-changing tips. The hard truth was that I often needed the money that I was giving away, but it felt so good to make someone else’s day that I did it anyway.

Approaching the age of 44, I had not “made it.” 

There I was: depressed, stuck, and numb. My talents were being under-utilized, and I was unappreciated at work. And I realized I was wasting my life in dumb, time-sucking, soul-crushing meetings talking about things I no longer cared about with people that did not value me and my contributions.  I thought my life had become incredibly boring with no real purpose, too. I was in a funk – stuck in the trough of disillusionment. I decided to drastically change my life and give it more meaning. I founded a company to help people think creatively, laugh, and build stronger bonds with others. And I was determined to be that philanthropist, too. I wasn’t going to let a lack of money prevent me from giving away money. It was a simple hurdle. Every problem has at least one solution, right? 

I started thinking about other ways to make this work. I thought maybe, just maybe, I could convince some friends to donate to the cause.  And maybe I could convince the Internal Revenue Service to buy in on the idea so foundations, companies, and large corporate sponsors could make significant donations and get a tax write-off, too. I paid for all of the legal fees and paperwork, enlisted the help of some smart people, and on July 11, 2019, it was approved!  The United States Patent and Trademark Office granted an official registered trademark for THE BIG FAT TIP one year later. So here we are: Welcome to The Big Fat Tip® official 501(c)(3) website and blog! 

We need your support to keep it going. There are many easy ways you can generate money for this cause: 1) Sign up for Amazon Smile – a small percentage of your total purchases will be given back to us! 2) Create a Facebook birthday fundraiser. 3) Ask your company to match your donation. 4) Buy a “Show Me Your Tips” or “Just the Tip” t-shirt. Ten dollars will be donated to The Big Fat Tip for each shirt purchased. By wearing that shirt, you will be showing your support and generating more awareness for the cause, too. 5) Encourage your friends, family, employers, and foundations to donate. 6) Share our information on your social media channels.  

With your help, we can surprise more hard-working people and spread a little more joy all over the United States. Let’s recognize and support those in the U.S. service industry by showing our deep appreciation for what they do for us and our local economies. But more importantly, let’s push out positive energy through these surprises – lifting those around us and giving them hope. We can do this! 

Deedre Daniel, Founder of The Big Fat Tip® and The Interesting Conversations Company®

Note: The BIG FAT TIP, Inc. does not have any employees or salary expenses. Volunteers carry out all efforts.