The law of return

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This space is no stranger to the art of giving, specifically, the importance for business owners to support the communities in which their companies reside.

But there’s another issue: Developing and fostering a corporate culture within a company that encourages philanthropy and community giving. After all, few things have greater impact than aiding organizations whose missions are to assist people in need — whether it’s recovering from a disaster, providing physical therapy or medical care, feeding someone a warm meal or putting a smile on the face of a child with a terminal illness.

So how do Northeast Ohio businesses rate in community giving? They seem to be doing quite well, as you’ll read in this month’s issue of SBN. We’ve devoted this issue to best practices in community giving, and in our cover package, we’ll introduce you to 11 businesses that have made the art of giving an integral part of their companies’ day-to-day operations.

These pillars of society will be honored Dec. 2 as part of the second annual Medical Mutual Pillar Award for Community Service. Their stories are heartwarming and their actions make good business sense. These owners and their employees are proof that giving back to the communities which support their companies leads to stronger businesses and better workplaces.

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of perusing the applications from this year’s crop of nominees. The breadth of ways companies find to give back is simply amazing. It wasn’t that long ago that philanthropy seemed limited to financial contributions to your local charity or picking up a hammer and going to work on a house for Habitat for Humanity.

These days, the options are limitless. While financial contributions remain the most popular way to give back, there are many others. Employees often band together, developing extensions of their organizations. These entities target good causes and explore ways to get involved. And their actions come with the full support — and encouragement — of management.

Take the story of John Di Julius and his staff at John Robert’s Hair Studio and Spa. Their application was inspiring. Included was a copy of a letter from the parents of a young boy who had died from cancer in January.

The letter detailed how Di Julius’ gifts of toys for Christmas last year at the cancer ward of Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital brought joy to the boy’s last few weeks of life. Now, a year later, the parents were making a donation to help others in much the same way Di Julius’ generous gift helped their son forget, if only a moment, his life-threatening condition and enabled him to enjoy the holidays.

Stories like this exemplify just how important the art of giving is and show how even the smallest gestures have major impacts upon the lives of those on the receiving end. I invite you to read these 11 stories, and several others scattered throughout the magazine dedicated to the art of giving.

And then I issue the following challenge: If you know of a company whose culture is ingrained with the art of giving, call us and tell us about it. Perhaps that company has a best practice that others can learn from, too.

Dustin Klein ([email protected]) is editor of SBN.