Thursday, 03 January 2013 15:55

How Barbara Gould is progressing Talbert House

2013 Nonprofit Board Executive

Barbara Gould, Advisory board member, Talbert House

(513) 751-7747 |


Barbara Gould is an advisory board member for Talbert House, a progressive, multiservice agency that delivers services in criminal justice, mental health and substance abuse to a broad population, helping to improve social behavior and enhance personal recovery and personal growth.

For many years, she has been on a variety of local, state and national boards, councils, and committees, championing the causes of education, the arts, the legal system and public policy.

Talbert House operates multiple service sites throughout Greater Cincinnati. Within the areas of criminal justice, mental health and substance abuse, the organization provides services including assessment, case management, prevention and education, individual and group counseling, day treatment and residential services.

Each year, Talbert House serves more than 31,000 clients on a face-to-face basis and an additional 51,000 clients through prevention services that cover Greater Cincinnati. The organization creates innovative, evidence-based programs that are proven to solve tough social problems that impact all members of the community. Through comprehensive and proven solutions to behavioral health challenges, Talbert House seeks to build a stronger community.

The organization has expanded its service through its affiliation with Gateways, the premier drug and alcohol outpatient treatment center in Greater Cincinnati. Services are designed for adults and adolescents whose drug use or alcohol abuse is interfering with their personal safety, achievements and healthy family communication.

Gateways is an independent nonprofit organization with its own 501(c)(3) tax status and board; however, Talbert House is responsible for the financial, human resources, and quality and clinical services at Gateways.

Published in Cincinnati

2013 Nonprofit Board Executive

Charles H. Woode

Board treasurer/finance committee chairman

The HealthCare Connection

(513) 554-4100 |


For more than 12 years, Charles H. Woode has tirelessly contributed his time and talent to The HealthCare Connection. Since joining the board in 2000, Woode has served the board in a number of roles, including as chairman from 2002 to ’05. Woode has also served as the chairman of the HR committee, and he currently serves as the board treasurer and finance committee chairman.

To demonstrate his commitment to maintaining a high service level, Woode attended the National Association of Community Health Centers board member boot camp training program. The program provides new and veteran board members with an overview of four key governance responsibilities: legal and liability, administration/personnel policy and procedural development, financial responsibilities, and clinical aspects of the health center.

Woode used what he learned during the training program to help The HealthCare Connection secure state and federal government funding to build a new Lincoln Heights Health Center.

With the help of Woode’s leadership, the capital campaign committee was able to raise $6 million in federal, state and local dollars to build the new community health center, which opened in 2004. Woode saw what a positive impact the center had on its immediate neighborhood and committed to extending its impact, allowing the center to reach other high-need areas of poverty beyond Lincoln Heights. The new center’s service area now extends to 13 political jurisdictions in northern Hamilton County, including Arlington Hills, Forest Park, Glendale, Greenhills, Lockland and Pleasant Run.

Published in Cincinnati

Cincinnati Pillar Award Finalist

Frederic Holzberger, Founder, Aveda Fredric’s Institute | (513) 533-0700


Frederic Holzberger’s passion for giving has deep roots that stretch back to his childhood when he himself faced a number of struggles growing up.

It was with that history in mind that Holzberger, founder of Aveda Fredric’s Institute, became intrigued by Sister Bonnie Steinlage. Steinlage is a Franciscan sister of the poor who received her cosmetology license to cut hair for the homeless and less fortunate.

Holzberger was introduced to her by a mutual friend and instantly wanted to help. He donated much needed product and financial support to Steinlage’s new salon, St. John Daymaker, near downtown Cincinnati, and began plans to create a salon on wheels.

Project Daymaker soon came to life as a Winnebago that had been transformed into a traveling salon where licensed volunteers could use their talents to provide much-needed haircuts to men, women and children. More than 10,000 people have been helped by this service and been re-energized to pursue a new job or just a better way of life.

Holzberger shares his philanthropic philosophy with his people using the words, “Giving back is not optional; it’s critical to the health and well-being of our community.” He teaches students about the power of giving back and the change that can be made through each person’s generosity.

The result is a group of students, staff and guests that always have their eyes open for the next opportunity to help someone who needs it.

Published in Cincinnati


Nonprofit Board Executive of the Year Award

Paula Kollstedt

executive director

Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Cincinnati | (513) 721-4284

Just 21 months into her tenure as executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Cincinnati, Paula Kollstedt has moved an already well-run organization to record achievements. She invites people from government, business, education, community and individuals to engage in little and big ways as the organization moves toward a vision of a world without Alzheimer’s.

Kollstedt knows Alzheimer’s disease in a deeply personal way and the career and leadership role she is in now is in fact a “second act” after 25 years at GE Aviation. More than 12 years ago, she began the journey as a caregiver after her husband was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. The disease and its related complications are the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S., and the only one in the top 10 that is increasing.

Kollstedt combines her laser-focused business skills and expertise with personal experience in a graceful manner in order to impact the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Cincinnati in profound ways.

Her approach is always “win-win” as she understands the importance of everyone benefiting. This strategy, along with her servant-leadership style, resulted in a 2011 walk season (the chapter held five fundraising walks) that generated more than $500,000 to fund programs and services within the organization’s 27-county service area.

Kollstedt is constantly communicating with her senior staff and identifying new opportunities and avenues for engagement. She works urgently because someone in the U.S. is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s every 68 seconds. Kollstedt consistently offers visionary leadership and attention to data as well as constant evaluation of processes to ensure energy is expended wisely.

Published in Cincinnati
Wednesday, 02 January 2013 15:38

2013 Pillar Awards - Cincinnati

Medical Mutual, along with our co-founding Pillar Award partner SBN, proudly presents the annual Pillar Awards.

In this issue, we honor 22 finalists representing a diverse group of companies and organizations of varying sizes. While they may be different in many ways, one thing that they all have in common is their commitment to strengthening the bond between the for-profit and nonprofit worlds.

This is an important conversation, and at this year’s event, we intend to explore it.

It occurred to us many years ago that few things are more meaningful and important than investing time and resources in supporting our community, and we felt the need to honor companies and their employees who have gone above and beyond the call. While support and direction come from management, companies are only as great as their employees.

For that reason, we are quite proud to present the Medical Mutual SHARE Award. This unique award was founded to recognize companies whose employees best exemplify the ideals of Medical Mutual’s own employee SHARE Committee. SHARE stands for serve, help, aid, reach and educate, and it is the heart and soul of Medical Mutual’s charitable giving effort.

The SHARE Committee, made up of Medical Mutual employee volunteers, helps coordinate more than two dozen community events involving nearly half of the company’s 2,500 employees.

On behalf of Medical Mutual and SBN, we hope you enjoy reading about these great companies and we offer congratulations to all of our Pillar Award recipients.

Rick Chiricosta

president and CEO

Medical Mutual


Published in Cincinnati
Friday, 04 January 2013 09:23

Cincinnati Pillar Awards 2013 Sponsors

The Eisen Agency

The Eisen Agency has a longstanding tradition of community service and giving back to our community — some in visible ways and others that are truly behind the scenes. Every member of our firm is part of some local nonprofit organization, where we do far more than simply sit on boards and committees — we proactively “do.”

We donate literally hundreds of thousands of dollars of in-kind work to nonprofit groups that could otherwise not afford our expertise. We help local schools, and biannually, we do a large food drive and cleaning product drive to help the less fortunate.

As Cincinnati’s premier and most-awarded public relations firm, we believe wholeheartedly in the power of community relations to foster further brand communications with current and prospective clients, business and community leaders, and in building a positive image of our business and creating a positive work environment. We believe that professionals want to work with and work for organizations that are actively engaged in the community and strive to help out.

It can be said that “it’s just PR,” as if PR was a bad thing. We would say, “Darn right, it’s PR, it’s what our firm is, who we are, and we’re proud of it.” Because, in the truest sense of the term, we are blessed, through hard work, tenacity and determination, to be in a position to be able to relate to our public through a series of community relations and philanthropic programs that provide children toys for Christmas, food on tables, and volunteers and donations for several of Greater Cincinnati’s most recognized nonprofit organizations.

For more information, contact The Eisen Agency at or (859) 291-4302.



Duke Energy Center

It is the goal of Global Spectrum at the Duke Energy Convention Center to provide our clients with an experience that goes above and beyond their expectations. Our commitment to service, attention to detail and ability to listen carefully and respond to every request will enable us to achieve this goal one event at a time. We are fully committed to delivering the highest level of building management and operations in the industry. We take pride in our facility and the community it represents and understand our role in bringing people to Cincinnati and helping them experience all the great things that the city has to offer.

Originally opened in 1968, the Duke Energy Convention Center experienced its third Grand Opening in 2006 as the city of Cincinnati unveiled the results of the most recent expansion. At that time, Global Spectrum was hired by the city to manage all aspects of the more than 750,000-square-foot Duke Energy Convention Center. Featuring more than 750,000 square feet of exhibit, meeting and entertainment space, we are the ideal destination for a meeting, conference, convention, trade show or banquet.

As part of its corporate responsibility programs, Global Spectrum is committed to reducing the use of natural resources and the amount of waste that results from the various activities and events that take place at the Duke Energy Convention Center. These efforts are part of a corporate initiative called the Global Spectrum STEP UP Program, which is a program designed to distinguish us as a socially and environmentally responsible organization.

Reach the Duke Energy Center at or (513) 419-7300.


Colortone Staging & Rentals

Colortone Staging & Rentals is a premier audiovisual and staging company with expertise in event design and production. We stage a multitude of events, including corporate meetings, awards banquets, special events, trade shows, concerts, webcasts and videoconferences. CSR also manages audiovisual equipment for hotel properties and operates a full-service equipment rental division. The solutions we provide, combined with our highly trained technical staff, ensure the success of every event. Our quality is unmatched and our attention to detail is unsurpassed.

The staff at CSR consists of the best in the business. Our technicians have an average of five years in the audiovisual and event management business. Their diverse backgrounds allow us to think on our feet, act quickly and provide flexibility and creative problem solving to every situation we find.

The company is also an active member of the community, consistently finding ways to give back where it can.

Learn more at

Published in Cincinnati
Friday, 30 November 2012 20:01

The 2012 Pillar Award for Community Service

The Medical Mutual Pillar Award for Community Service, presented by Smart Business, honors businesses of all types and sizes that make outstanding contribution to their community. Its purpose is to encourage a charitable enviroment, recognize creative efforts that make a difference and demonstrate the ties between the for-profit and nonprofit worlds.

This year's winners will be honored at a special banquet on December 5 at LaCentre Conference & Banquet Facility in Westlake, OH.

Take a look at how these kind and selfless individuals and companies do what they do:

An introductory letter from Rick Chiricosta, President and CEO, Medical Mutual

Pillar Award for Community Service finalists:


ArcelorMittal Cleveland

BlueBridge Networks

Brand Muscle, Inc.

Enzoco Homes dba Handyman and a Hammer for Our Troops

GE Capital Retail Bank

Home Instead Senior Care

Huntington National Bank

Improve Consulting & Training Group, LLC

InfoCision Management Corporation

Majestic Steel USA

Nordson Corporation Foundation

Olympic Steel, Inc.

PartsSource, LLC

PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP

Sequoia Financial Group, LLC

Smith Medical Transportation Systems, Inc.

SS&G, Inc.

University Hospitals

Nonprofit Board Executives Of The Year:

Debby Zanglin, Guidestone

Tom Laird, Jr., ACE Mentor Program of Cleveland

Doug Weintraub, Jump Start

Mike Crislip, New Directions, Inc. & Crossroads

Rea & Associates Nonprofit Executive Directors Of The Year:

Mary Alice Frank, American Red Cross

Kathleen Crowther, Cleveland Restoration Society

Steve Friedman, Ph.D., Cleveland Sight Center

Elizabeth Fowler, Cleveland Zoological Society

Kathryn Kazol, Emerald Development Economic Network & Eden, Inc.

Dennis Allen, Hattie Larlham

Youth Supporter Of Philanthropy:

Cal DiJulius & Taylor Banc, All Kids Relay for Life Team

Tara Coury, The Safe House


A list of our fine sponsors


Published in Akron/Canton

Dan Doyle Jr. wanted his father to be a partner in his new business venture. So naturally, he brought the proposal to the breakfast table. One morning, over egg whites, he thoughtfully laid out his plan, all the while preparing for the possibility of a tough sell. What he wasn’t prepared for though were Dan Doyle Sr.’s terms.

“In order to get him out of retirement, he made me commit a third of our profits to local not-for-profits,” says Doyle, co-founder, president and CEO of Tampa, Fla.-based Dex Imaging Inc. “He didn’t take a paycheck. That’s what he wanted.”

Doyle knew giving away a third of the company’s profits would be a tall order to fill. But he also felt confident that with his and his father’s expertise in the office imaging industry — Doyle Sr. sold a previous business for $3.5 billion — they could build Dex Imaging into a high-growth document imaging dealership.

So he accepted his father’s terms. In fact, he took it a step further, agreeing to distribute another third of top line profits back to the company’s noncommissioned employees.

After all, “It’s not easy to negotiate with your father,” Doyle says.

Since the duo co-founded Dex in 2002, they’ve successfully fulfilled their commitment to giving two-thirds of its profits to employees and local not-for-profits. And in the meantime, they’ve still managed to grow the business from $1 million to $100 million in revenue, spreading its footprint to 24 locations across five states and 560 employees.

Here’s how Doyle keeps Dex Imaging profitable while taking care of its employees and the community.

Make it more than money

Starting out, it was pretty easy for Dex Imaging to meet financial commitments to employees and not-for-profits, Doyle says. For one, the company had just 14 employees. But also, Doyle and his father had been involved in the Tampa community and done business there for some time. The area’s recent struggles motivated them to take on a bigger role with Dex.

“It was during a time when the banks were getting all rolled up and moving to Charlotte County in the Bay Area as well as other areas in Florida,” Doyle says. “So Tampa banks used to support all the not-for-profits, and that kind of diminished as the banks moved their headquarters.”

However, as they opened new offices in other cities, not everyone understood the giving back philosophy and its significance for the organization. Profit-sharing was an easy concept for people to grasp. But Doyle wanted the community involvement to be equally valued by employee and the company culture.

“In the beginning, people kind of questioned us,” Doyle says.

“What our management learned is it’s easy to sit there and say, ‘Yes,’ and find people and not-for-profits that are looking for money. But then we would quiz them on ‘OK, well why did we support this cause?’”

To connect people to the why, Doyle asks each branch of the company to choose which not-for-profit they want to support with the third of their profits. And recognizing that every branch operates somewhat differently, he also leaves how they decide up to them.

Some offices meet weekly to discuss organizations they’re interested in supporting, while others get together monthly or quarterly to talk about their plans and criteria.

“We don’t dictate how we should do it and how they should look at each not-for-profit,” Doyle says. “I just want to know that they’re involved with it, they understand it and that they’re willing to commit themselves to it.”

For Doyle, the main concern before committing the money is whether or not people have done their due diligence. So he likes to ask staff as each branch questions to make sure they’ve dug deeper. For example, “How many dollars end up back in the local community’s hands?” and “What support is the organization most in need of?”

“See if they can give you a little background besides just the title or the name,” Doyle says. “If they said Boys and Girls Club, do they say, ‘Oh, they help boys and girls,’ and kind of waffle on it? Or do they say, ‘They get into this particular cause and they’re finding matches, or we’re supporting the program that helps grandparents that are taking care of grandchildren because the parents are deadbeats?’”

As a leader, asking the tough questions helps employees understand their reasons for getting involved with a not-for-profit. By making them dig deeper, you encourage people to choose missions or causes that speak to them personally and will motivate them to make a bigger impact.

That’s certainly the case at Dex, where many employees give back their time to their chosen organizations beyond  the profit contribution, whether it’s serving on boards and committees, getting involved in events, or just reaching into their own pockets to support a cause, Doyle says.

“The only way to really get into it is to understand that particular organization,” he says.

“It wasn’t just that somebody sent them a letter and they agreed to it.”

It’s also a point of pride when employees see your company’s name linked to organizations they feel benefit their local communities.

“People come in with their son’s or daughter’s soccer league, asking can we sponsor that — all the way to their church or their school, to bigger events that are hosted by whatever city,” Doyle says. “And it’s pride. They see our company’s name associated with these things and people are proud of it.”

Give more to get more

Today, Dex has minimal employee turnover. But the company’s people philosophies don’t just help it retain employees. They’re also a way to attract new talent to the company.

“We know we’ve done a good job when people say, ‘Hey, are you hiring?’” Doyle says. “When we’re hiring people, we tell them the story and they’re hooked on it.”

But making big commitments to people can’t just be a story. You also have to follow through.

During the economic recession, many of Doyle’s employees wondered whether the company would stick with its commitment to distribute two-thirds of its profits to employees and their not-for-profit causes.

“In 2009, I was nervous because — especially in Florida — it wasn’t the best financial year for anybody,” Doyle says. “We’d made some commitments to some local not-for-profits. But it would have been great to have the money sitting in our bank as a reserve.”

Despite the challenges, Doyle says the decision to stick with the commitment was a no-brainer.

“I was brought up under the philosophy that the more you give, the more you get,” he says. “So it keeps your pencil sharp, but it motivates you and it pushes you.

“When we stretched ourselves when we gave a third back to employees — and actually we gave them a little more than a third because we didn’t want anybody hurt — it took everybody by surprise. And once they realized that we were sticking to that and making sure that they were receiving their checks, they realized that we were going to stick to the other third going to not-for-profits.

“It was just another one of those moments where they go to raise their head above some other companies that either went by the wayside or turned the other way.”

The key is view community giving as an investment rather than a donation, Doyle says.

“The theory behind it was if we can support our local community and make it stronger, businesses will thrive,” he says. “And if businesses thrive — our business is very dependent upon other businesses thriving — we will thrive.”

The same goes for employees. Investing a third of your profits back into your people obviously has a positive impact on employee morale. But it also gives Dex a competitive advantage. Much of the company’s business is service-related. So when its service technicians have a real vested interest in retaining customers, it creates a better experience for customers.

“Having control of their financial destiny also empowers employees to take on bigger roles in decision-making — something the company already encourages with its hands-off management style.

“So we try to push them to make a decision today,” Doyle says.

“If they think the customer is right, they should give them that credit. And don’t wait and tell the customer, ‘I’ve got to look into it. I’ll call you back.’ That’s the thing people hate the most. People hate being put off.”

To show people he walks the talk, Doyle also subscribes to the management philosophy of leading by example. He knows that employees want to be a part of companies that have leaders who look out for their best interests and the interests of their community.

Sometimes that requires stepping back, for example, when it helps to empower employees. When he sees one of his managers getting overly involved in their people’s decisions, he likes to remind them that micromanaging goes both ways.

“I always ask them if they’d like me to get more hands on,” he says. “If I feel like they might be micromanaging, I’ll say, ‘Do you want me looking at every decision you make every day? And they always say, ‘Well, no.’ And that works doesn’t it?”

Other times it’s about modeling the values he wants to instill in the organization. Doyle serves on numerous not-for-profits boards as well as committees to support causes that inspire him — showing his people that even the CEO can take time to give back.

“I’ve explained to our management that ‘Look, I’m willing to sacrifice my time and my family time to do this,’ and I expect the same from them,” he says. “But they also see what it gets back.”

Admit what you can do

A big concern with giving away a percentage of your company’s profits is what happens if you don’t have the money. What if I need to fund an acquisition, hire new staff or cut costs during a recession? Doyle knows these challenges all too well.

“I don’t think any of us would have predicted what happened at the end of 2008 and 2009,” Doyle says.

“The fear always is that you give away a third of your profits and that’s a third of your profits you could have had as a nest egg, just in case you do end up in a financial crisis.”

But instead of avoiding profit-sharing initiatives, Doyle simply advises businesses considering these kinds of people strategies to be realistic. Don’t overcommit.

“Obviously, the more people see your name out there supporting local causes, the more local causes come to you, which is good and bad,” he says. “You get to learn a lot about local charities that might be small that are underfunded and have a tremendous impact on our community. But it also comes to a point where you have to turn down certain not-for-profits, which is always tough.”

People involved with not-for-profits are typically pretty passionate. And obviously, you don’t want to destroy anybody’s dreams or hopes. But you also need to make sure you don’t promise more than what you can deliver.

“You have to keep in mind that there are things out of your control that might have a financial impact on your organization,” Doyle says. “We took a philosophy that we’re going to push ourselves by donating a third, and even if we give away that third, we can still survive any storm. Obviously, it’s been tested just going through 2009. So just keep that in mind. Don’t overextend yourself.”

One way the company stays accountable to its commitments is by being incredibly transparent about its financials. Three times a year, Doyle convenes all of Dex’s employees at a town-hall meeting, where he goes over the company’s financials.

By letting employees know exactly where the company stands, you show them that everyone is in it together. So the better you do as a company, the bigger impact the company can have for them and their community.

Every now and then Doyle may have a branch overcommit to a not-for-profit. But in these cases, the company has always been able to back up their donation from corporate.

How did Doyle know a third would be a doable percentage for Dex? Well, he didn’t.

“To be honest with you, that was a total crapshoot,” he says. “That was just a deal I cut with my dad.”

So how should you set your goals for community giving? Doyle suggests coming up with a figure that you can stick to as you grow. That way you’ll be able to see your company’s success pay off.

“When we started, we were very small,” Doyle says. “So the impact locally wasn’t big. Now, you look at it, and the last year, we gave away almost $4 million.”

How to reach: Dex Imaging Inc., (800) 886-2329 or


  • Connect people to the organizations they’re helping.
  • View giving back as an investment.
  • Don’t overcommit.


The Doyle File

Dan Doyle Jr.

Co-founder, president and CEO

Dex Imaging Inc.

Born: Baltimore, Md., but has lived in Florida since he was five.

Education: Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.

What would you do if you weren’t doing your current job?

I would probably work in the marine industry. I love boats.

What is one part of your daily routine that you wouldn’t change?

I meet my father for breakfast every morning.  This is where the two of us have time to talk about whatever is on our minds with no disruptions.

What do you to regroup on a tough day? 

I walk the seawall behind my house with my 6-year-old son. He loves the outdoors and all living creatures and loves to talk about them.

What do you do for fun? 

I hang out with my family. My wife and I both love having our kids around. We go out for dinner every year on our anniversary with all of them. It’s just fun to spend time with them and hear what they have to say.

Where would you like to go that you’ve never been? 

I would love to go to the Galapagos Islands.

Published in Florida
Sunday, 30 September 2012 20:00

Record-setting performance

Northeast Ohio companies and employees were lacing up their cleats and getting in game shape this past summer for another year of the Cleveland Corporate Challenge coordinated by Hermes Sports & Events.

This year’s Cleveland Corporate Challenge set new participation records with 117 companies from Northeast Ohio competing in the summer’s 14 events that made up the challenge and 88 of those corporations competing in the Corporate Cup divisions, which included participation in all of the events.

Those weren’t the only records set in 2012. Additional record-setting performances included: a total of 1,462 teams, 56 corporations and 181 individuals volunteered to assist in the events, more than 50 industries were represented, an estimated 10,000 players and spectators enjoyed the challenge, 18 different venues hosted the events, and 19 different charities received donations from the challenge.

The Corporate Challenge events consisted of softball, skeeball, kickball, mini golf, dodgeball, flag football, cornhole, basketball, volleyball, bowling, tug-of-war, a 10K relay, an obstacle course and a 1-mile fun walk.

Corporate Challenge was broken up into six divisions based on participating company’s employee size. The winning companies in each division were: AXA Advisors in Division I, The Blind Pig in Division II, Majestic Steel in Division III, Titan Insurance in Division IV, Hyland Software in Division V and PNC in Division VI.

The Cleveland Corporate Challenge promotes employee wellness, teamwork and business networking among companies and their employees, while helping local charities in the community. Registration for the 2013 Cleveland Corporate Challenge will be available soon. <<

How to Reach: Hermes Sports & Events, (216) 623-9933 or

Published in Cleveland

Philanthropy can do more than make you feel good. In fact, recent studies show it can improve financial performance, enhance brand image and reputation, drive sales and customer loyalty, and increase a business’s ability to attract and retain employees. Additionally, research has shown when price and quality are equal, more than 75 percent of consumers would switch brands when a company is associated with a good cause.

“Businesses have many ways to establish a charitable giving program, oftentimes choosing to support causes that touch an organization or that their employees feel strongly about,” says Kathleen Zenisek, marketing director with First State Bank. “This may entail supporting national or global causes, which make the nation and the world a better place, but dollars locally spent can have a profound impact on your world and direct marketplace.”

Smart Business spoke with Zenisek about how to localize your philanthropic efforts and support causes that help those in your community.

How can a business learn more about the needs in its local community?

In metropolitan Detroit, there are three programs — Leadership Detroit, Macomb and Oakland — that help local leaders expand their knowledge about the assets and issues in their respective counties and surrounding region.

The nine-month program, which starts in September, requires participants to meet once a month for a day to learn about a specific topic that affects the county, including government, education, health and human services, arts, religion, business, justice, the environment and more. With unique learning experiences, exclusive field trips and tours, and access to a variety of proven leaders, graduates emerge from their experience eager to make a difference.

With so many overwhelming needs, how can a business decide between national or local charities?

Giving locally makes sense because you know where and how your dollars are being spent. Local charities and nonprofit organizations understand the interests and values of the community. They typically have fewer layers of administration, so more of your money is likely to go directly to the cause.

See if your community has a food bank, soup kitchen or children’s home. Think about what you can do in your community to make a difference and think about your passions. With local donations, you don’t even have to donate money; your time can be just as valuable. For example, First State Bank works with a county food bank that supplies food for 55 neighborhood food pantries and every year organizes a Thanksgiving food drive, which engages customers, as well.

What should a company consider if it wants to align its business with a charity?

Many businesses align their community involvement with their strategic business goals. For instance, an ad agency might support its industry by providing an annual scholarship to an aspiring graphic arts student or donating art supplies to needy schools. Construction companies might consider donating time and materials to organizations that rebuild their own communities. Consider your industry and how your talents and resources can help solve a particular social problem.

As a community bank, First State Bank sees declining property values and resultant foreclosures as one of the biggest issues impacting our community. Despite efforts to keep people in their homes, sometimes houses are reverted to the bank, as with one recent homeowner. We then gave the home to a local school district to begin a hands-on building renovation program, and while the framing and drywall were going up, so was the outlook — and housing value — in the neighborhood.

How can businesses consider developing products that help to better the community?

Sometimes it’s as simple and immediate as offering discounted products or services to veterans or seniors. Other times, the effects are felt later on.

For example, the Detroit regional area has been hit hard with foreclosures. With growing interest in ‘purchase-renovation-sale’ as a means to maximize investment dollars and to improve neighborhood home values, First State Bank developed a short-term loan program for people who personally transform injured or distressed properties, then sell. With this program, vacancies can drop in hard-hit areas, tax revenue can return and real estate agencies are able to aggressively market homes with missing parts. From the buyer to seller to next-door neighbor, it’s a win-win situation for the community. We also recognize that some customers truly need help. Partnering with GreenPath Debt Solutions, a local and respected not-for-profit money management organization, customers are offered debt and credit counseling at no cost.

Not all volunteer and philanthropic opportunities need to have clear-cut business goals. The real goal is to find a local cause or two that you can be passionate about and then support them in a variety of ways. Your sincere, enthusiastic involvement will go a long way toward helping your community and business.

How can being a good corporate citizen benefit businesses?

Perception means a lot to consumers. A recent study showed 80 percent of Americans have a more positive image of businesses that support a cause they care about. Two-thirds said they’re more likely to trust businesses that are aligned with social issues.

Participating in or sponsoring an event may persuade consumers to do business with you. Community events that used to be free to residents are now being re-evaluated, presenting opportunities for businesses to step up. Saving the community’s fireworks, tree lighting ceremony, or movies or concerts in the park from cancellation can make your business a hero.

Giving closer to home can improve quality of life and build a stronger local community.

Kathleen Zenisek is the marketing director with First State Bank. Reach her at (586) 445-6717 or

Insights Banking & Finance is brought to you by First State Bank

Published in Detroit