By Jerri Stroud, BBB Editor
Businesses decide to get involved with charities for many reasons – a sense of civic duty, a desire to give back to their community or to set an example for employees or other stakeholders.
More and more, BBB Accredited Businesses are partnering with BBB Accredited Charities when they choose a charity partner. BBB recently talked with several businesses and charities about their partnership through accreditation.
BBB’s “Gain by Giving” program encourages BBB Accredited Businesses to gain by donating, volunteering or getting involved (such as serving on a board) of an Accredited Charity.
For Tim Leon, president and brand strategist with Geile/Leon Marketing Communications, his involvement with the Children’s Home Society of Missouri came about as his company celebrated its 25th anniversary. He challenged his employees to donate 25 hours, $25 or to give back to the community in some increment of 25.
For Oscar Berryman, director of corporate services at Monsanto Co., the opportunity to volunteer at St. Louis Area Foodbank was a way to get his team involved with Monsanto Together, a corporate volunteer program that has donated thousands of hours to nonprofits in the communities where Monsanto has a presence.
For Brett Tesson, owner of Tesson Roofing & Exteriors, it was personal.
As a young man, Tesson was matched with Sanford Scott through Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri. Scott encouraged him to make better choices than he might have made otherwise.
“I don’t know where I’d be without that organization,” said Tesson. He and Scott “are extremely close to this day.”
Tesson recently contacted BBB to find out more about BBB Accredited Charities. In a letter to potential customers in his part of south St. Louis County, he offered to make a donation of $100 to an Accredited Charity on behalf of anyone who signed a contract with his company.
“We firmly believe in the Better Business Bureau,” Tesson said. “I always encourage customers to do their due diligence, and I encourage them to use the BBB.”
At Geile/Leon, the 25th anniversary challenge allowed employees to choose any charity for their personal commitments. As owner of an Accredited Business, Leon felt it was important to pick an Accredited Charity.
“I come from a business background,” Leon said. “I wanted to be affiliated with a charity that operated and adhered to business principles. Working for a well-run charity will be a better experience for a business person.”
A year earlier, Leon had begun volunteering with the Children’s Home Society and more recently joined its board. For his 25th anniversary commitment, he offered to bring the charity’s leaders into his office to work with his public relations team on redoing some of its communications materials, including a new email template and a proposal template.
“We donated about 80 hours of agency time and accomplished an extensive amount of work for Leslie [Tucker] and her team to begin using,” Leon said.
“He’s a wonderful asset to the organization,” said Tucker, development director for the Children’s Home Society. Geile/Leon provided the Children’s Home Society with a template for a new email newsletter as well as a print newsletter. The company also gave the society pointers on talking to the media.
Karen Nolte, the society’s executive director, said, “He was able to bring a whole army of experts to the table.
“We are a much better agency already because of Tim,” Nolte said. From a charity’s perspective, monetary donations are important, “but so are time, talent and treasure.”
Monsanto’s Berryman said working with an Accredited Charity like the St. Louis Area Foodbank reassures him that he is working with a nonprofit that has “good oversight” and one that is “a quality organization that provides great services to our community.”
Berryman said he’s been involved with Monsanto efforts at the Foodbank for at least eight years. Since the Monsanto Together Volunteer Program began in June 2010, 800 employees have volunteered nearly 4,000 hours at the Foodbank. From those hours, Monsanto has issued more than $34,000 in service grants to the St. Louis Area Foodbank.
“Employees love having the opportunity to come and support these events,” Berryman said. “It’s a great team-building activity, and many of our people feel fortunate in their lives. To give back to the community and provide support for people who are in need is important for them.”
Ryan Farmer, communications director for the Foodbank, said he believes BBB Accreditation and the Accredited Charity seal on the Foodbank’s website, letterhead and business cards is important to many companies who partner with the Foodbank to provide volunteers or other donations.
“Nowadays, with people wanting to be careful with who they support, accreditation helps ease any fears” that an organization is less than transparent, Farmer said.
“You want to work with an organization that is being responsible with your time, your money and your food,” Farmer added.
This article first appeared in the winter 2014 issue BBB’s Torchlight magazine, a quarterly publication for BBB Accredited Businesses and BBB Accredited Charities.