Through philanthropy, smaller businesses can make a big impact

Businesses of all sizes and sectors can make a difference in their communities. Just because a business is small does not mean it should not be dedicated to philanthropy and charitable giving. While Fortune 500 companies and major foundations earn attention each year for giving back to the community, people often overlook the millions of American smaller business owners doing their part.

With smaller cash flows and operating budgets, money can be tight — too tight to easily disperse to community nonprofits.  Entrepreneurs often end up putting profits back into the business to help it grow — but fortunately, there are other ways to give back to charities in need.

If your business is challenged with giving money, consider engaging with employees and volunteering time, donating goods and services and building a company culture that fosters even more generosity. Simply put, you don’t have to be big to have a big effect on those who need your help.

For many businesses, there can be a strategic aspect to philanthropy that increases the bottom line and allows the company to give even more in the future. These efforts can range from recruiting a fundraising team for a walk to support local domestic violence victims to creating an alliance with a national nonprofit.

Enormous benefits

The benefits of both types of initiatives are enormous. A hands-on community outreach event will go a long way toward putting your brand in front of potential customers, while a strategically placed sponsorship or supporting role within a larger production could touch a bigger pool of people affected by that particular mission.

For many business owners and their employees, these causes can be near and dear to their hearts — but they’re also very special to the broader community. Your generosity can fuel more acts of kindness and giving from others and the resulting wave of interest can attract more clients or customers to your own business.

If you were choosing between a small business that supports a nonprofit that’s special to you and one that doesn’t, which one would you choose? Sometimes, it can be that simple.


Strategically, it’s best if there is a plan behind the generosity. For a small business to have the most effect, its good deeds have to stand out from the pack. For example, during the holiday season, people are feeling even more generous. While this is wonderful news for those receiving the generosity, as a company, you may not stand out in such a crowded field.

Another challenging situation is when numerous companies support one cause, resulting in your company logo displayed as literally one among dozens on a T-shirt.

Here are some tips for differentiating your company’s giving:

  • Pick your spots. Anytime during the first quarter may be a better time for your company to organize a toy drive, bring attention to a lesser-known disease or donate to a worthy cause. There is a natural let-down in giving after the holiday season concludes. Your gift is even more valuable then — making a bigger splash and bringing even more awareness to the program, not to mention your bottom line.
  • Incorporate your philanthropic mission into all aspects of your brand and messaging. Assets, from your email signature to logo to website, can be temporarily redesigned to further immerse your philanthropic campaign with your company’s identity.
  • Use social media. Connect with the nonprofit you are supporting, using their channels and your own, and use this engagement to grow your company’s business network and elevate its public profile.

When you’re ready to take on a philanthropic program, make sure it is optimized to benefit both your business and the nonprofit of your choice. That’s how small businesses truly can make a big difference.

Hilary Kaye is the founder and president of HKA Inc. Marketing Communications. The firm recently won the National Philanthropy Day award in Orange County, Calif., in the small business category. It also placed Silver at the international 2015 Stevie Women in Business Awards in the Community Program of the Year category for its Locally PRoud initiative, a campaign which awarded one area nonprofit a full year of no-cost public relations services in celebration of the agency’s 30th anniversary.

Henry Shaw broke fertile ground for a botanical garden as well as philanthropy

Henry Shaw founded the Missouri Botanical Garden — the subject of this month’s Uniquely St. Louis — in 1859, a gesture that preceded the age of American philanthropy.

Shaw had made a fortune in St. Louis, first by selling hardware and cutlery and then expanding to include investments in agricultural commodities, mining, real estate and furs. He was able to retire at the age of 39.

Originally from England, he resolved to return something to his adopted city, and 40 years after he arrived in St. Louis, he founded a botanical garden for the city’s residents.

The design was influenced by the great gardens and estates of Europe. Shaw wanted to focus on its displays and also on the richness of its architectural heritage and the importance of its botanical research.

It was unusual at the time for such an expression. Land was seen for its agricultural value, and the 79 acres he owned was a choice piece of property. He described the land as, “uncultivated, without trees or fences, but covered with tall luxuriant grass, undulated by the gentle breeze of spring.”

While his gesture was unusual for the mid-19th century, its foundation is similar to what philanthropists follow today. Shaw loved the land and saw its potential as something others would appreciate as well. But he didn’t stop there. Through his acts of philanthropy, Shaw provided substantial support to develop many other St. Louis institutions including Tower Grove Park, the Missouri Historical Society and the St. Louis Mercantile Library.

A CEO I once interviewed — well-known for acts of philanthropy — described his thoughts on the subject of giving:

“There might be something that is really important to a founder of a company,” he says. “You learn from other leaders or your own sense of responsibility that you should give something back to the community. When you start out, you often don’t have enough money to share with others. As you succeed in life and you accumulate assets, it makes you feel good to give some of it back.

“When I was a student, I studied existentialism — Kierkegaard and Sartre wrote about it. It teaches that the purpose in life is to make the world a better place. If you think in those terms, you ask, how do you accomplish that? What can you do with your money and your means to make the future better for human beings?

“Doctors contribute and wealthy people contribute. There are all sorts of ways you can make your town and your country better. I think you get a lot of satisfaction out of knowing that when you die you are not known for just clipping coupons the rest of your life after retirement — you’ve actually done some things that are meaningful and lasting for the community. It doesn’t hurt to give. It’s a good feeling.”

What can you do to make the world a better place? Perhaps it is time to give it some thought and take action.

Align your business with a giving program

Philanthropy has long been a difficult subject for businesses. While corporations donated more than $25 billion in cash and in-kind giving in 2013, there is still a lot of debate over how businesses should give, the efficacy of donations and even whether they should give at all.

When the Collection Auto Group was first starting, we had a rather scattershot approach to corporate philanthropy. We were new to Greater Cleveland and wanted to give back to the community that welcomed us. We were in a position to help and there certainly was no shortage of worthy causes.

But after 10 years, we’ve grown to a point where we needed a strategy for our corporate philanthropy, not only for consistency’s sake, but to deliver the maximum benefit for the community and ourselves.

It’s more than profits

Economist Milton Friedman famously argued that the only social responsibility of business is to increase its profits. With all due respect to the late economist, we reject that argument, as most Northeast Ohio corporations do. Here, business owners and leaders do know they have a responsibility to give back to their communities.

But the decision to give is followed quickly by the questions of how, how much and to whom. Every business has to decide this for itself based on its means, interests and community needs.

The Collection Auto Group has looked at the most pressing needs of the communities and decided to focus its giving in those areas. Foremost of these is education. Community prosperity depends on having an educated and informed populace, one that can thrive in today’s fast-changing workplace and be productively engaged in civic activities.

We also will support those organizations that improve our communities through health care, youth development and mentoring, the training of future leaders and feeding the hungry.

Economic development is crucial, and that is why it is beneficial to partner with groups and initiatives that retain and attract businesses to our region.

What goes around …

Any company benefits when it helps others. We’ve found that giving back to the community makes it easier to recruit and keep good employees who value community service and engagement. In return, customers like to do business with companies they know are improving their communities.

In addition to giving employees up to 1½ days off a year for volunteer work and matching their charitable donations, we also challenge them to donate 10 days of their own time to a variety of civic and nonprofit organizations.

Ultimately, a healthier, better-educated and more prosperous populace will buy products in the community. But even if it doesn’t, our communities will benefit and, as members of those communities, so will our business and employees.

Businesses and communities rise and fall together. Neither can succeed without the other’s help.

Bernie Moreno
Collection Auto Group

Bernie purchased his first auto dealership in 2005 and now has 25 dealerships in the Collection Auto Group.

(440) 716-2700

Will Gruver found heartfelt riches by bringing electricity, jobs and hope to developing nations through USP&E Global

Will Gruver, founder and CEO, USP&E Global

Will Gruver, founder and CEO, USP&E Global

Will Gruver pursued the American dream after earning a degree in economics from Northwestern University — but it didn’t take long for the Minnesota native to realize that working at a bank in Chicago’s famous Loop District couldn’t satisfy his entrepreneurial yearning or heartfelt need to enrich the lives of others. 

So in 2002 he threw caution to the windy city and moved to the Dallas suburb of Celina where he launched USP&E Global. His goal was to design, build and operate fuel-efficient and renewable power stations, primarily in emerging markets.
Gruver says his decision to risk it all was truly a no-brainer, because the U.S. economy was growing at a snail’s pace while overseas markets were booming. And given the choice, he’d rather be sorry, than safe.
“The barriers to entrance have never been lower while the financial and humanitarian rewards have never been greater,” he says. “There are unbelievable opportunities in out of the way places for anyone willing to take a risk.”
On the surface, it seems like Gruver’s chancy decision might yield big dividends. After all, the International Energy Agency expects global energy demand to increase by one-third by 2035, with nearly 60 percent of the demand coming from countries with a burgeoning middle class like China, India and the Middle East.
But outsiders who try to navigate the business landscape in developing nations are often stymied by language and cultural differences and bureaucratic red tape. Small firms like USP&E also face stiff competition from energy, engineering and infrastructure giants like Siemens, which plans to expand its reach in emerging markets over the next five years.
Gruver would need to leverage the expertise of experienced globe trotting partners and employees to realize his dream of bringing power, jobs and hope to people in underdeveloped countries.

Establish trust
People in struggling countries are often wary of outsiders and for good reason. Consider the impoverished West African nation of Sierra Leone where slavery and the sale of so-called blood diamonds to outsiders during the 1990s fueled a brutal civil war and now only those who can afford generators have access to electricity.
Gruver, who employs a faith-based approach to leadership, believes that creating communities and jobs isn’t a consequence of doing business — it’s a reason to be in emerging markets and a moral obligation. Moreover, he scoffs at strangers who suggest that he should hasten his company’s growth by offering officials in underdeveloped countries financial incentives to secure permits or minimize red tape.
Instead, he follows his moral compass by hiring local people to operate and maintain a power station once construction is complete. He says that providing training and jobs creates trickle-down good will, and an environment of mutual respect, that leads to new opportunities. He cites his firm’s ability to secure multiple contracts in Sierra Leone, which is experiencing annual GDP growth of 35.9 percent, as an example.
He pays local workers well once a week and gives each employee a bag of rice to supplement their family’s meals.
“You build trust by keeping your word, and by giving people jobs and a career path,” Gruver says. “Hope was lost in Sierra Leone when we arrived two years ago. It’s remarkable how just a little bit of reliable growth can make a difference. We’re not only giving these people jobs and electricity — we’re giving them hope.”

Leverage strategic partnerships
How difficult is the business climate in Sierra Leone? The country’s overall ease of doing business ranks 140th out of 185 economies according to data compiled by The World Bank. Worse yet, it ranks 173th in dealing with construction permits and 176th in getting electricity, which means Gruver needs strategic alliances to achieve his philanthropic and economic mission.
“It’s very difficult to break into a foreign country without leveraging the established trust of companies that know the ins and outs of the local business and have tenured relationships,” he says.
In addition, having relationships with highly regarded and diverse companies such as Caterpillar, General Electric, Hyundai and Ernst & Young Africa helps USP&E overtake entrenched local competitors by offering clients turnkey power solutions. And the company’s nimble size and vast network helps it customize its deliverables and pounce on prospective opportunities.
“Some competitors just sell power plant support or construction or they only work in Venezuela because they don’t have the alliances to compete on a bigger stage,” Gruver says. “We can offer everything from design to construction and ongoing support for our plants by leveraging the abilities and products of our strategic partners.”
When USP&E couldn’t find a local printer to deliver documents to a prospective client in Johannesburg, South Africa, E&Y stepped in and its actions helped the fledgling power company close the deal. Other relationships have lead to inaugural deals in France and Spain.
“We’re not a huge company so we look for mutually beneficial relationships that extend our capabilities,” he says. “We expect to generate revenues of around $50 million this year and that’s largely due to our strategic partnerships which have never been stronger.”

Hire diverse and passionate people
Companies encounter unfamiliar technical and cultural challenges when they venture beyond the U.S. border. Having a diverse, multi-cultural staff with global business experience is critical in an environment where local knowledge plays a critical economic role. This is especially true in emerging markets, where decision makers are interested in knowing whether companies are interested in them as people or just want their dollars.
There’s no shortage of opportunities for globally experienced engineers and energy-savvy technicians — especially in Texas. So how has a mid-size company with fairly limited resources managed to hire 110 movers and shakers over the last three years?
“We promote our mission because it attracts like-minded people who want to work for more than a paycheck,” Gruver says.
Indeed, what people want most is the chance to make a difference according to Alexander Hiam, the Massachusetts-based author of “Business Innovation for Dummies.” Although a great salary doesn’t hurt, professionals are flocking to disruptive, world-changing organizations where they can feel good about what they do.
Interviews at USP&E usually start with a rudimentary question and answer exchange, but the conversation quickly turns toward the company’s overseas exploits. At that point, candidates who are merely interested in collecting a paycheck usually exit, while those who are passionate about the company’s mission are hooked on the idea of traveling the world and meeting buyers, sellers, and facility managers on multiple continents with different languages, cultures and customs.
And since engaged employees are generally more productive than their less motivated counterparts, the passion factor allows Gruver to boost the return on his fairly small staff. His experience is validated by more than 29 studies that link employee engagement to better service, sales, profits and shareholder returns.
“I lead an awesome team of executives, directors, engineers, project managers and technicians,” Gruver says. “They can have any job they want but they work for USP&E because they’re passionate about helping people.”

Harness the power of the Internet
USP&E doesn’t pay for advertising on Google or Yahoo, and it doesn’t have a commercial sales team. Yet, the company manages to garner five to 15 legitimate leads per day through the strategic deployment of some 80 websites.
Gruver studied web development in college — and refers to himself as a technophile — so he knows a thing or two about search engine optimization. Invariably, USP&E comes up near the top of the page when a prospective client searches the Internet for power engineering solutions or providers because the company owns the rights to a variety of keyword-rich domain names.
A strategic domain name can increase a website’s ranking especially if the domain matches the search query. The tactic is especially effective for small companies that don’t have a large advertising budget or well-known brand, since it snares prospective clients who search on keywords or phrases instead of a company name, and having a strong web presence may even attract investors.
“Executives often think that they have to pay for strategic Internet placement but that’s simply not true,” Gruver says. “Managing search engine optimization is so important to growing companies that it needs to be a top priority for executives right after cash flow.”
Speaking of cash flow, it’s still a daily priority for Gruver given the company’s age and rapid growth. He’s learned to say no to unnecessary frills and how to streamline operations by investing in mission critical areas that yield the best return. He credits his mentors with telling him the truth about frivolous spending instead of what he wants to hear while teaching him the virtues of risk taking and pushing boundaries.
“It’s amazing how just one disruptive idea can change the fortunes of so many people,” Gruver says. “We’re not just creating jobs — we’re creating hope — and that’s a wonderful thing.”
How to reach: U.S. Power & Environment Global, (469) 726-4780 or

The Gruver File

Name: Will Gruver
Title: CEO and founder
Company: USP&E Global

Born: Minneapolis, Minn.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in communications and economics, Northwestern University.

What was your first job?
My first job was a youth pastor, but I started my first company when I was just 10. It was a landscaping business which I built up and sold to my partner after I finished high school.
Who do you most admire in the business world and why?
Entrepreneurs, especially those who head-up small businesses, because they’re the risk-takers who are pushing the boundaries and making a difference in this world. It’s the developing nations that offer the greatest growth and philanthropic opportunities, but it takes courage, passion and a forward-thinking strategy to pursue those opportunities.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Practice work-life balance. It’s easy to become entrenched in your business and overlook family and friends. I’m more motivated and productive on a daily basis because I have balance in my life.
What’s the key to success in emerging markets?
There’s so much corruption that’s it’s critical to build trust. You won’t muster repeat business unless you take the time to become a valued and trusted supplier.
What’s your definition of business success?
It may sound like a cliché, but helping other people. It’s easy to make money; the hard part is making a difference. There are unbelievable opportunities in this world for anyone willing to take a risk. For a company to thrive there has to be a reason for it to exist. Profits are important but it’s how you get there that counts.

Awards: Finalist, 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year, Ernst & Young
Recipient, Dallas Business Journal’s “40 Under 40”Award
Finalist, INC. 500, fastest-growing private companies in the U.S.
Dallas 100 Entrepreneur Award, USP&E placed seventh out of the 100 fastest-growing privately held companies in the Dallas area


Flying Horse Farms, Fairmount Minerals and the late Paul Newman help kids be kids

Chuck Fowler, CEO, Fairmount Minerals

Chuck Fowler, CEO, Fairmount Minerals

Back in 1988, actor Paul Newman wanted to find a way to give back to children, and not just any kids but kids who were in serious need of a chance to act like kids. So Newman started the Paul Newman Association of Hole in the Wall Gang camps dedicated to serving children with serious illnesses.

Today, the association is called Serious Fun Children’s Network. It comprises 14 camps, one being Flying Horse Farms in Mt. Gilead, Ohio, that provide summer activities where kids can be kids and forget their illnesses for a week.

“We serve children with heart disease of all kinds, including heart transplants, children with all forms of pediatric cancer, kidney disease, severe asthma, children with autoimmune disease, and children with gastrointestinal disease and blood disorders,” says Mimi Dane, Flying Horse Farms’ president and CEO. “We do traditional camp activities like archery, swimming, boating, fishing, arts and crafts, and a canine program.”

Flying Horse Farms was founded in 2009 and became a member of Paul Newman’s Association in 2011. The group serves children ages 7 to 15. This year will be Flying Horse’s third summer season of camp.

Mimi Dane, President and CEO, Flying Horse Farms

Mimi Dane, President and CEO, Flying Horse Farms

These camps hit home for Chuck Fowler when he was first introduced to the Serious Fun Children’s Network by Cleveland Clinic’s head of pediatric cardiology, Dr. Gerard Boyle. Fowler, who is CEO of Fairmount Minerals, a producer of industrial sand, lost his 14-year-old daughter, Angie, to melanoma.

“One of her great desires was to be able to get outside and play rather than be sitting in the hospital room the whole time, and she wasn’t able to do that,” Fowler says.

Fowler has since been extremely active at Flying Horse Farms. He joined the board of directors, the finance committee, and the building and maintenance committee.

“We took this as an opportunity to honor our daughter Angie but also make it possible for other kids to experience camp and the outside and, as Paul Newman said, ‘Raise a little hell,’” Fowler says.

Flying Horse Farms hosts camps for families, a residential camp for the children with serious illnesses and a sibling camp for brothers and sisters who aren’t ill but would still enjoy having fun at camp. Flying Horse offers two things that make it different from most other camps around.

“One is we have a full-time medical staff here,” Dane says. “We have a full-time medical director and a full-time nursing director for each camp that we have.”

The other thing that makes Flying Horse different from most other camps is that because having a child with a serious illness is a big weight on the shoulders of those families, the camps are free of charge.

“As a consequence, we really rely on our corporate donors, our individual donors and fundraising,” she says. “It costs about $2,500 a camper for a person to come to camp.”

Organizations such as Fairmount Minerals and individuals like Chuck Fowler are critical to the work that Flying Horse has done.

“The corporate support that we’ve had, both at the CEO level from Chuck and from Fairmount Minerals, has been invaluable to us,” Dane says. “Chuck has been very supportive with his time, talent and treasure.”

In addition to serving on the board, Fowler and his wife helped put up the capital to get Flying Horse Farms started.

Much of that success depends on the support of Flying Horse Farms’ donors and fundraising efforts. Flying Horse and Fairmount host an area event called Campfire. This year, the event will be held at Severance Hall on April 19.

“It is a celebration of the legacy of Paul Newman and of Flying Horse Farms,” Dane says. “A reception will begin the evening followed by a performance within Severance Hall and then a dinner and dessert reception will be afterward. We will be joined by Clea Newman, Paul’s daughter. ”

The first Campfire event was held in 2011, of which Fairmount Minerals was a presenting sponsor. It will have that role again for the 2013 event. ●

2013 Columbus Pillar Award Winners Unveiled

COLUMBUS, OH (Jan. 21, 2013) – Smart Business Network Inc. is pleased to announce the category winners of the 2013 Medical Mutual Pillar Award for Community Service program, presented by Smart Business and sponsored by Rea & Associates, GREENCREST, Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board, and Catering by Design.

At an awards recognition program held at the Ohio Statehouse January 17, 2013, 15 organizations were unveiled as Pillar Award winners in five distinct categories and participated in a series of panel discussions with TV-10’s Kristyn Hartman about the tie between the for-profit and nonprofit worlds.

Pillar Award for Community Service
• Cardinal Health
• Columbus Crew
• Donatos
• Fifth Third Bank
• Mettler Toledo
• RockBridge
• Safex

Medical Mutual SHARE Award
• Safelite®

Rea & Associates Executive Director of the Year Award
• Jay Jordan, president & CEO, OCLC
• Tammy Wharton, CEO, Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland Council

Nonprofit Board Executive of the Year Award
• Brooke Billmaier (Victoria’s Secret), St. Stephen’s Community House
• Michael J. Fiorile (The Columbus Dispatch), Columbus College of Art and Design
• Laura Warren (Limited Brands), Girl Scouts of Ohio’s Heartland Council

Kent Clapp CEO Leadership Award
• Jane Grote Abell, chairman, Donatos
• Mark Swepston, president & CEO, Atlas Butler Heating and Cooling

“This class of honorees, combined with this year’s group of finalists, is truly inspirational,” says Dustin S. Klein, publisher of Smart Business. “They give back individually and as organizations. They get involved in causes they care about. And the nonprofit leaders have forged meaningful relationships with the for-profit companies and their executive teams to better deliver upon their missions. All told, the Pillar Award class of 2013 truly understands how to strengthen the regional communities where we all live and work.”

The Pillar Award program was founded in 1998 and honors organizations and individuals that best demonstrate a commitment to making a difference. For information on the award winners, along with profiles of the finalists for this year’s Pillar Awards, visit To receive a nomination for the 2014 awards program, or to learn more about the Pillar Awards, contact Smart Business at [email protected] or (440) 250-7026.

How Victoria’s Secret Direct collaborates to help its communities’ needy

Melanie Rose-Billhardt, Vice President of Customer Care, Victoria’s Secret Direct

2013 CIN Pillar

Pillar Award for Community Service Finalist

Melanie Rose-Billhardt

vice president of customer care

Victoria’s Secret Direct

(614) 415-7000  |


Among its many community activities, Victoria’s Secret Direct joined with the Children’s Hunger Alliance to present the first Kids Day Backpack Bash for more than 500 children at Montgomery County Fairgrounds Historic Roundhouse in July 2012. The Kids Day event promoted the USDA Child and Adult Food Program, which provides hot meals and snacks for children ages 5 to 18 at approved after-school program sites during the school year.

In addition, Victoria’s Secret Direct has supported the Children’s Hunger Alliance’s Taste to Remember event since 2006 and contributed almost $34,000 to the event. Other corporate contributions include $95,000 in support of the Healthy Kids, Healthy Schools and Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities initiatives and the Children’s Hunger Alliance’s annual Menu of Hope event.

Each year, Victoria’s Secret Direct hosts Community Cares Week in Dayton. Community Cares Week supports multiple nonprofit organizations in the community with community service hours.

Melanie Rose-Billhardt, vice president of customer care for Victoria’s Secret Direct, has served as chair of the Children’s Hunger Alliance’s Southwest Ohio Regional Board, serving Cincinnati, Dayton and surrounding communities for five years. She also serves on the agency’s governing board.

Rose-Billhardt has worked to raise awareness of the Children’s Hunger Alliance by securing various marketing materials for board members to distribute when introducing the agency to corporate and community members.

She has contributed her time, talent and personal resources to advance the Children’s Hunger Alliance’s mission and vision, and she was instrumental in securing additional corporate funds to support the Kids Day 2012 Backpack Bash.

How Union and Guardian savings banks lighten needy Cincinnatians’ loads

2013 CIN Pillar

Pillar Award for Community Service Finalist

Louis Beck


Union Savings Bank and Guardian Savings Bank

(513) 247-0300 |,


The philosophy at Union Savings Bank and Guardian Savings Bank is straightforward: They get involved in community activities because it’s the right thing to do.

Led by CEO Louis Beck, the company’s service projects are employee-driven. Each month, the company holds an employee action committee meeting open to all employees. Anyone in the company can come and present a project or an organization close to his or her heart that he or she wants the banks to support.

Beck leads the company’s community giving. He is the driving force and sets a strong example through action. He never misses a community action committee meeting and constantly supports, encourages and motivates everyone around him.

The impact that Union Savings Bank and Guardian Savings Bank has on the community is far-reaching. Each year on Thanksgiving, the employees and families of Union and Guardian get together in the morning and carry out a major holiday initiative. They meet at the Kroger grocery store on Ferguson Road, load their cars and then deliver Thanksgiving dinners to needy families all over Cincinnati. Last year, they gave dinners to more than 900 families.

In addition, if not for Union and Guardian’s giving spirit, students at Ethel M. Taylor Academy, Lincoln Heights School and South Avondale School would not have the wealth of school supplies and backpacks the company provides; and the residents at Tender Mercies, a shelter for mentally ill homeless people, would not have Christmas presents and dinners provided by the company’s workers.

How Ellen Katz and The Children’s Home of Cincinnati are pushing forward

Ellen Katz, President and CEO, The Children’s Home of Cincinnati


Nonprofit Board Executive of the Year Award

Ellen M. Katz

president and CEO

The Children’s Home of Cincinnati | (513) 272-2800


Ellen Katz has been president and CEO of The Children’s Home since 2005, although she has worked with the agency since 1990. During this time, the agency has responded and adapted to the changing needs of children and families in our community and has received local and national recognition for quality service.

Today, Katz is focused on developing the vision and strategy to ensure long-term growth and success for The Children’s Home. She has grown the agency from 189 employees in 2005 to 270 today. That staff runs 25 programs and related activities serving 6,000 clients annually, up from 1,200 clients in 2005.

Under Katz’s leadership The Children’s Home of Cincinnati has seen its assets and endowment grow from $70 million to more than $81 million and its budget increase from $13 million to $19 million. Her work has impacted the community, helping thousands of children overcome significant behavioral and educational challenges.

Katz’s leadership has propelled The Children’s Home into a flexible, innovative organization that consistently responds to the ever-changing needs of vulnerable children and their families. She utilizes unique management techniques and processes, effectively harnessing for-profit business to help the 148-year-old agency adapt to changing economic circumstances.

These kinds of collaborations have resulted in higher quality and an increased impact of services, greater presence in the community and in increase in funding opportunities, as well as decreased duplication of community services and a better capacity to serve children with the greatest needs.

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.

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