One gift I received growing up in a family-owned business was learning the importance of community service at an early age. These weren’t lectures. We watched our parents and uncle make community service a vital part of Velvet Ice Cream’s culture, and we saw firsthand how our community benefitted as a result.
As the fourth generation to run Velvet, my sisters and I are charged with ensuring this legacy lives on. But it’s important for business leaders to move their philanthropy beyond writing a check or sitting on a board. We encourage all who work at Velvet to make a commitment to service, donating money, time and talent.
Like so many, our family has been touched by cancer. Thus, since the inception of Pelotonia, we’ve supported the cycling event that supports cancer research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center-Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute. A number of Velvet employees ride and Velvet helps host fundraising events for the team.
This year, we upped our commitment. In collaboration with Pelotonia, in June, we rolled out a new “Pelotonia-green” package for our Vanilla Lovers Trio flavor. With the sale of every carton, Velvet donated 25 cents to cancer research via Pelotonia. The program gave us a great hook for encouraging customers to help.
All businesses and individuals should take stock of their support of charity.
- Select a cause(s) aligned with your corporate and personal philosophies. Ask: What is important to us as a company? What inspires me, personally?
- Invite employees, suppliers and others in your circle to join in. Remember, a finger can point, but a hand can make a fist.
- Seek out partners. From a charity, to local leaders, the media or other influencers, connect with partners who add clout to your efforts, whether you’re funding cancer research or building a playground.
- If you can’t make a financial contribution, volunteer. Or consider in-kind or other support. What can you give that will benefit the charity?
- Make it fun. Create events that rally the troops and build a culture of joyful giving.
- Keep timing in mind. For us, National Ice Cream Month was a natural tie to an August bike ride.
- Consider special outreach to younger members of your team, family and the community. It’s a great way to foster giving in future generations.
- Share human stories that encourage others.
- Don’t be afraid to toot your horn. By publicly communicating what you’re doing, you inspire involvement.
An organizational commitment to service makes good business sense. You may benefit from tax deductions. You enhance the economic and overall well-being of your community. You build the leaders and doers of tomorrow. You promote the generosity of others, making your gifts go further. Your employees are happier. You bring more meaning to your life and the lives of others. And you experience greater joy.
While not always quantifiable, these rewards are rich and invaluable.
Luconda Dager is the president of Velvet Ice Cream. Family-owned and operated since it was founded in 1914, Luconda is the fourth generation to run her family’s company in Utica. In addition to leading the company’s tremendous growth, Luconda is a frequent speaker and author, sharing her experiences and ideas with the region’s and her industry’s business community.