Why business invests time, money and energy for good causes.
Texans are an especially giving lot. A study by Dallas-based “Atlas of Giving” proves it.
According to recent articles by The Dallas Business Journal and The Philanthropy News Digest, charitable giving in the United States increased 7.5 percent in 2011 over 2010 for a total of about $346 billion in contributions—$16.5 billion of which came from corporations.
Texas companies and individuals gave about $29 billion, leading levels of giving in all states except Florida, Illinois and Pennsylvania. The outlook for causes also looks promising for 2012: “Atlas of Giving” estimates that charitable donations will increase by 3 percent in Texas and 3.9 percent nationwide. *
Why Businesses Pause for the Cause
What prompts businesses small and large to “pause for the cause” and contribute significant dollars and volunteer hours through corporate sponsorships? And how do these businesses benefit from their philanthropic efforts? We asked some executives to share their insights and experiences related to corporate giving.
Janine Iannarelli is the founder and president of Par Avion Ltd. (www.paravionltd.com). Par Avion is a business jet brokerage firm that was established in Houston 15 years ago and serves clients all over the world. Par Avion Ltd. has been a sponsor of the Pin Oak Charity Horse Show for nine years (www.pinoak.org, benefitting Texas Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House Family Rooms, and Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Family Alliance) and Mercury orchestra (www.mercury.org) for four years. Par Avion also supports aviation friends and business associates around the nation who are in fundraising cycling or walking events for MS and the American Cancer Society.
“As president of Par Avion Ltd. and the sole owner, I have a great deal of influence over where the company allocates resources. My personal favorite charities and non-profits include those that support the wellbeing of children and animals, and I am a big believer in promoting the arts. Where my heart goes, so goes what funds and other resources I can make available. I also encourage all who work for me to take on some sort of charitable endeavor. We all need to give back to the community, and that can be done through giving of time,” Iannarelli explained.
She noted that corporate sponsorship and community involvement factor heavily into her company’s long-term goals because being engaged and giving back as a good corporate citizen is a high priority.
“Although we are a small business, we try to do our part by contributing to select charities on a consistent basis. It is my hope that the company is associated with the word ‘charitable.’ Par Avion Ltd. also makes use of sponsorships as a means of branding. Equestrian sports are typically what we like to sponsor. What a great way to demonstrate the importance of trust in a partnership!” Iannarelli added.
Kevin Fullen is the firm administrator for Sloan, Bagley, Hatcher & Perry Law Firm (www.sloanfirm.com), which was founded in Longview in 1980 and opened a Houston office in late 2010. The firm employs 25 people. The Sloan Firm has been a sponsor of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women events in Longview for five years and sponsored the Bay Area Go Red luncheon event in March 2012 for the first time. The firm also sponsors Vino For Heart, another AHA fundraiser.
Fullen notes that the firm chose to support American Heart Association campaigns because many of its employees have family members who have been affected by heart disease.
“The cause and the American Heart Association as an organization are a passion of ours. Sponsoring the Go Red event in the Bay Area was a nice fit to our AHA support in Longview and northeast Texas,” Fullen said. “We are dedicated to the communities we serve. It’s not just an advertising mechanism for us – community involvement benefits and enriches our home life. In addition to making a positive impact in the communities where we live and work, we have found that potential clients view Web sites and search out a firm that gives back to the community and its citizens. Providing corporate and community support makes a law firm more human.”
The Sloan Firm also supports Habitat for Humanity, food banks, homeless shelters, local school districts in northeast Texas and church-affiliated ministries.
Why Corporate Support Matters
Virtuosi of Houston (www.virtuosiofhouston.org) is just one example of a group that is especially thankful for the generosity of its corporate backers. Virtuosi of Houston is a 501(c)(3) non-profit youth chamber music orchestra comprised of exceptionally talented young musicians ages 11 to 18 and from all socio-economic levels of society. The orchestra, numbering 50 to 60 members each year, is comprised of young people from 26 greater Houston area schools (four others who are home-schooled.)
Virtuosi benefits from financial and volunteer support from The Boyce Consultancy, Medistar Corporation, Imperial Sugar Company, and MetroNational Corporation (which also donates 5,000 square feet of studio space for rehearsals). Virtuosi also receives private funding from individuals and foundations supporting fine arts and youth organizations and public funding through the Houston Arts Alliance and the Texas Commission on the Arts. Virtuosi benefits, too, from ample “in kind” support from many businesses such as Hughes Watters Askanase LLP, Pennino and Partners and others. Furthermore, hundreds of volunteers have donated countless hours since the orchestra was formed 16 years ago.
Zarine Boyce, pro bono president and chief executive officer for Virtuosi, says that corporate sponsors and volunteers rally behind Virtuosi because of their concern about reduced funding for arts education in the public school system and their recognition of the need to expand the limited opportunities where students (particularly in the 11 to 18 age range) can receive a comprehensive musical education to help them fully develop their talent.
Boyce adds: “Corporate sponsors are motivated by the desire to promote the cultural vibrancy of Houston and the importance of keeping classical music alive by making chamber music more accessible to a broader audience in a variety of more affordable venues. Corporate support helps a socio-economically diverse group of talented young musicians in our area prepare for careers as professional musicians and educators by providing unique pre-professional music education and performance opportunities. We have rehearsal space in a custom-designed studio, instruction by University of Houston Moores School of Music professors, and coaching in small ensemble chamber music repertoire. Our musicians also perform at a wide variety of venues such as The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts Zilkha Hall, pre-Houston Symphony concerts at The Hobby Center, and numerous community outreach and private gatherings. We are especially pleased that five of our musicians had the privilege of accompanying the Houston Symphony to New York City in early May to perform for patrons attending Houston Symphony fundraising events in Carnegie Hall.”
* Sources: www.atlasofgiving.com,
Resources to Consider:
- Corporate Community Relations Council (www.ccrhouston.org)
A partner-to-businesses throughout the greater Houston area focused on “helping members and their companies to strengthen their community relationships and investments in projects that impact the places they live and work.”
- Volunteer Houston’s Corporate Services Division (www.volunteerhouston.org/involved/corporations)
Offers fee-based services related to
•Identifying a community project
•Developing a plan for the project
•Managing community and vendor relationships
•Managing an event budget
•Coordinating a project on the day of activity
•Completing follow up reports for closure
•Providing a monthly E-Calendar of 20 volunteer opportunities researched by Volunteer Houston that are suitable for individuals or groups.
- “The Sponsorship Handbook: Essential Tools, Tips and Techniques for Sponsors and Sponsorship Seekers,” by Pippa Collett and William Fenton
A practical guide to sponsorship for those working for sponsoring companies as well as those seeking sponsorships.
- “Corporate Social Responsibility: Doing the Most Good for Your Company and Your Cause,” By Philip Kotler and Nancy Lee
Explains why supporting a charity or cause is beneficial for business, marketing and public relations with testimonials from representatives of 25 socially responsible companies; considered the bible for today's good corporate citizen, according to Amazon.com.