Matthew Figgie and Rick Solon: Charitable Giving

Matthew Figgie, Chairman, Clark-Reliance Corp.

The Figgie family continues to build on its long-standing and significant tradition of charitable works and direct community involvement. As chairman of Clark-Reliance, I have worked to create a culture throughout the business that has instilled the paramount value of giving back. I always try to lead our employees by the simple theme, “We must have a calling greater than ourselves.”

Even as many companies are still trying to recover from a very severe economic downturn, it is imperative to make charitable giving top priority. Not only is it the right and responsible thing to do, but it can be good for your company’s reputation and image, increase customer loyalty and improve your ability to attract and retain employees. In other words, the benefits — tangible and intangible — substantially outweigh any costs or risks.

At Clark-Reliance, we have maintained the strong corporate and individual commitment to charitable work and community involvement. In fact, we believe every company should embrace its philanthropic responsibilities. Make the commitment and deliver on your promises to those you choose to help and support, just as you do to your own customers.

Rick Solon, President and CEO, Clark Reliance Corp.

When developing a charitable plan for your organization, consider the following:

Support and impact the city/community you’re in.

Many businesses seek to align their community involvement with their strategic business goals. Look for a charity in your community that you and your employees believe in that will enable you to work with influential people who can help you make a difference.

Look for ways to work in areas that are close to home, close to your business and where your employees live. Supporting a charity that serves employees’ families, friends and neighbors can become a great source of pride for everyone in your organization.

Select a special cause that affects employees and their families.

Having all your employees working together for a special cause that directly affects people they know is one of the best team-building experiences. For example, at Clark-Reliance, we selected the National Kidney Foundation because I received a kidney transplant from an employee, Dave McKee.

Since the company’s involvement with The National Kidney Foundation, we have raised a record amount of funds, made the Cleveland kidney walk the fourth-largest walk in the country and have the largest corporate walk team. Having all of these employees and their families engaged has been a rewarding team-building experience for the company while directly benefiting the National Kidney Foundation.

We also believe in spreading the wealth by helping several organizations at the same time, whether it is fixing up a home or park, serving meals to the elderly, or getting behind a blood drive.

Add your personal touch.

If you choose to support a charity, put your personal mark on it. Make it a little bit bigger and better than before you took on the challenge. This will make your efforts memorable and impactful and shows your commitment to the organization. 

While doing the right thing and helping people in need is reward enough, it doesn’t hurt that these efforts often carry secondary benefits for the organization.

It is good for your employees.

Studies show that engaging employees in corporate giving boosts employee morale and productivity.

Corporate altruism sends a message to employees that the company is a good place to work and treats its people well, which will in turn, enable you to attract and retain better employees, motivate employees and keep them productive. It creates a better work environment, which can significantly improve the company’s bottom line.

It is good exposure.

Publicizing your commitment to a charity helps educate and remind others about the charity. This will inspire others to get involved and create goodwill for employees.  Utilize local media, social media and websites to get the word out.

Clients and customers like to associate themselves with businesses that support worthy causes.

It will provide a good network.

Being involved with a charity is an opportunity to network with like-minded professionals. These people can become future partners, customers, suppliers, confidantes, colleagues, mentors, and so on. And you will always be able to reflect fondly on the good works that you have done together.

Matthew P. Figgie is chairman of Clark-Reliance, a global, multi-divisional manufacturing company with sales in more than 80 countries, serving the power generation petroleum, refining and chemical processing industries. He is also chairman of Figgie Capital and the Figgie Foundation.

Rick Solon is president and CEO of Clark-Reliance and has more than 35 years of experience in manufacturing and operating companies.