By Shellie Kreter, BBB Communications Assistant
Better Business Bureau created Gain by Giving last year in response to a need expressed by BBB Accredited Businesses: They said giving back to the community was important to them in a survey. They also said they’d be interested in working with and supporting BBB Accredited Charities.
Accredited Charities have told BBB that they love working with vendors that they know they can trust, while BBB Accredited Businesses have found it rewarding to give back, both for its own sake and because it helps promote their values.
Giving back has become a trend for businesses. Many realize it’s good for the bottom line. Volunteer opportunities can improve staff retention: Many employees say they prefer working for a business that promotes volunteering. Businesses may save on taxes by donating to a charity. Charitable giving also can be an opportunity to express a brand’s values.
BBB Accredited Business leaders had an opportunity to network with six Accredited Charities before November’s TORCH Awards ceremony. The charities set up booths in the foyer where they showcased their accomplishments, demonstrating why they are worth a business’s investment of time or money.
“We had quite a bit of traffic at our booth and made some connections,” said Jasmina Schue with Angel’s Arms, a St. Louis County charity that provides temporary homes for foster children. Julie Probst with Variety, the Children’s Charity, said that it was “a gracious thing to offer, and we got several volunteers.”
Other business leaders have asked BBB to point the way to Accredited Charities in need of their involvement.
Jon-Paul Rucker runs Greener Construction, a BBB Accredited roofing business.
“I was having a very good year, and I wanted to give back,” Rucker told BBB Charity Director Carole Bellman.
Bellman referred Rucker to BBB’s online Accredited Charity Guide, formed specifically to help businesses and consumers looking for trustworthy charities. After some research, he found Angels’ Arms and arranged to visit several of the properties they maintain for foster families. There, he assessed how the charity could reduce regular maintenance and upkeep for the properties.
“Probably the best value for them,” he said, “was the roof we donated to one of their properties in Ferguson.”
Elaine Powers of Angels’ Arms said, “The roof was one of those things that was quickly moving up to our must-do list. Jon-Paul coordinated the whole project, and we have a foster family with a new roof on their house.”
Angels’ Arms was delighted with the donation, Powers said. “It’s not every day that somebody offers to donate a roof. We were thrilled with the opportunity and with their willingness to give such a significant and meaningful donation.”
Fellow Accredited Business Amaya Contracting provided the roofing materials for Angels’ Arms at cost.
Lindsay Lopez, executive director of the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri, says collaboration is important in the Food Bank’s work, too.
“Columbia is such a generous community, and Columbia businesses support us in a number of ways,” she said. The Food Bank accepts donations, service contributions, sponsorships and uses volunteers, many from businesses.
“We had 44,000 volunteers last year come in to help us repackage food, and that has been a popular team building activity for many businesses,” Lopez said. “It’s a win-win for them—there’s no better way to get to know people than through an activity like that.”
Jim Pellock, owner of Precision Construction Services in Columbia, a BBB Accredited Business, has been running ads promoting donations to the Food Bank recently. He’s also offering to donate $200 for every customer who signs up for a job with his company before the end of the year.
BBB Accredited Charities also seek out Accredited Businesses.
Kevin Drollinger, executive director of Epworth Children and Family Services, says that whenever his charity needs to hire a business to do work, they always consider BBB Accredited Businesses.
“When we look for vendors, we go to the Accredited Business list,” he said. “Because we know BBB is sending BBB Accredited Businesses to BBB Accredited Charities, we feel that it’s important that we invest in Gain by Giving and give back to BBB Accredited Businesses, too.”
Epworth sought out Savedrivers Services, an Accredited Business owned by Ronnie Williams.
“I’m definitely in the business of giving back to the community,” Williams told BBB. “I feel like I’m saving lives, because motor vehicle collisions are the number one killer of young people. Because we can help Epworth’s kids to get a license, we can help keep them safe.”
Working with charities has definitely been a benefit to his business, he said. “Any opportunity I get is a blessing to me and my community.”
“BBB knows that our community is skilled at working together to solve problems,” said Michelle L. Corey, BBB President and CEO. “We are happy to provide an opportunity for conversation and collaboration, connecting two standards-based groups. We believe that it will lead to great accomplishments.”
BBB encourages businesses to check out the BBB Accredited Charity Guide at http://go.bbb.org/charity-guide. The guide provides a list of charities organized by mission and lists each charity’s name, location, goals and how to donate, volunteer and get involved.
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2015 issue of BBB’s Torchlight magazine.