Philosophy of giving: We do not see charitable giving as a duty or an obligation. We view charitable giving as something that is critically important to helping our company thrive and grow.
Moreover, we believe that an organization’s level of and commitment to philanthropy is a measure of its success. We also believe that everything that goes around comes around, so there is an element of return to our giving.
Here’s an example. People in our community see what we’re doing. They see our sincere commitment to support charitable causes both locally and nationally, and they see this as a sign of a successful company. Naturally, people want to be a part of a successful company, so our charitable giving helps us to attract and ultimately, retain, talented and committed employees. In turn, by attracting the best and brightest, our company becomes even more successful, and our ability to give back to the community grows.
Since we believe that people can only achieve their personal best once philanthropy becomes a part of their own lives, we believe that by both setting an example for our employees and by encouraging them to give back to the community, we are indeed helping our people be the best that they can be.
Encouraging employee participation: Family Heritage encourages its employees to participate through both leadership-by-example and fun. The leadership of the company is actively involved in a number of community service organizations and sets the example for the other employees.
Additionally, when possible, the company brings a speaker from a community organization to talk to employees. This makes community service more visible and tangible to employees and encourages involvement.
During fund-raisers for causes that the company supports, there are often contests and themes. And employees have been divided into teams to compete to raise the most money for a particular cause.
At other times, there have been theme days on which people dress up or donate to the cause. For example, Family Heritage had a pajama party theme day during the Harvest for Hunger campaign, and a Halloween-costume day to support charities.
Family Heritage extends its fund-raising beyond its employees. It sells through a network of independent agents, and during certain weeks, it selects a charity and donates a specified amount to that charity for each insurance policy sold during that week. Contests are held during that week and significant amounts are donated to the charities as a result of the efforts of those agents.
Fifth Third Bank, Todd Clossin, regional president, Northeast Ohio
Philosophy of giving: At Fifth Third, we believe that if you build a stronger community, you build a better bank. To strengthen the communities we serve, we provided approximately $30 million in philanthropic and community support in 2004.
The Foundation Office reviews hundreds of funding proposals and requests for assistance from nonprofit entities and works strategically to align private and corporate contributions to effect the greatest and most positive change possible. The broad categories Fifth Third supports are health and human services, community development, cultural and arts, and education.
Evaluating causes: The first consideration is whether the cause fits into one of the four categories our foundation supports. Once that fit is determined, we also take into consideration any employee participation or involvement, so we can reinforce their individual contributions.
And finally, we consider the financial impact of the cause, with the goal of making the most positive impact for the monetary investment.
Corporate College, Denise Reading, president
Philosophy of giving: As an educational institution, we are in the service business and yet we know that in order to fulfill our commitment to our region, our employees need to be engaged in our community. Cuyahoga Community College touches the lives of more than 55,000 individuals annually, and our employees extend that reach through their individual volunteer efforts.
Encouraging others: Corporate College is committed to encouraging employers to take a strategic approach to their philanthropy dollars and to their commitment of employee hours in volunteer efforts. We are campaigning for employers to model their support of education by assisting their employees in expanding their education but also by finding ways to encourage and support employees’ efforts to support the education of their children and the children of our community.
The support of education in this way ensures an educated work force, and that is a strategic philanthropic effort that will pay off for the individuals, the employer and the regional economy.
BrownFlynn, Margie Flynn and Barbara Brown, co-owners
Importance of philanthropy: Philanthropy is at the heart and soul of BrownFlynn’s culture and mission. Our work in helping to create strategic connections within and between companies, nonprofit organizations and foundations, coupled with our firm’s own community engagement activities, demonstrate how you can do well (financially and strategically) and do good in the community.
Employees and potential employees seeking a higher meaning in their work are drawn to BrownFlynn. It’s the same reason they choose to stay here. They are extremely dedicated, passionate and skilled people who walk the walk, demonstrating the benefits of community engagement through their client work and professional involvement.
We view philanthropy not only as a charitable practice but as a sound business strategy. Our philosophy is that healthy communities breed healthy businesses. Therefore, businesses such as BrownFlynn that understand and embrace the importance of philanthropy and build it into their business plans help our communities and economy thrive.
Evaluating causes: BrownFlynn donates up to 10 percent of its revenue in pro-bono services and financial contributions to nonprofit organizations. But before donating time or money, we conduct due diligence to ensure the organization is supported by a strong, engaged board and executive director; and has demonstrated fiscal responsibility and has the means to measure outcomes.
We strive to align BrownFlynn’s core competencies with opportunities that best suit our abilities and the charitable organizations’ needs. We are passionate about educating children (core to developing our future leaders), which is why our employees were instrumental in conceiving and developing our signature, award-winning community program, the BrownFlynn Book Club. We also support women’s health/wellness and sustainability.
The judging panel handled the difficult task of poring over nominations to determine this year’s honorees. Judges looked at engagement, level of commitment, breadth of philanthropy, focus and, most important, impact.
The 2005 Pillar judges are:
- Alex Machaskee, president, CEO and publisher, The Plain Dealer
- Suzanne Sutter, president, Things Remembered
- Michael Benz, president and CEO, United Way of Greater Cleveland
- Myron Robinson, president, Urban League of Greater Cleveland
- Ronn Richard, president and CEO, The Cleveland Foundation
- Margot Copeland, executive vice president and chair, Key Foundation
- Fred Koury, president and CEO, Smart Business Network
- Kent Clapp, president & CEO, Medical Mutual of Ohio