Friday, April 30, 2010

Partnering for More Than Profits. A Model for Business Philanthropy

You and I benefit from philanthropy, whether we think about it or not. I’ve said it before: good businesses make money, but great businesses build the communities that make good business possible. By investing in social and civic capital, from health care and human services to arts and education, great businesses create the foundation of the towns and cities where commerce happens.

It was for that reason that I attended the Denver Business Journal’s Partners in Philanthropy Summit last week. Leaders of Colorado’s profit and non-profit sectors met to discuss the practices that would best benefit the businesses, the non-profits and the community, especially in an economy that will be continue to challenge our communities even after our businesses begin to emerge from recession.

True partnering with non-profits requires a business to do more than write the occasional check. Engaging employees in business philanthropy is a best practice that resonates with me. When employees have both a voice and a hands-on role in the community-building efforts of the business, the non-profit, the business and the employees all benefit.

The non-profit strengthens its bond with the business, plus it has a good chance for individual support from the employees. The employees appreciate being included in their company’s civic engagement and are happier in the knowledge that profits aren’t the only measure of their worth to the company. The business benefits from a more committed workforce and from the goodwill the practice generates both inside and out of the company.

Best yet, the idea of nonprofit/business/employee partnership is not limited to the big companies. Human-owned businesses can and do make great use of this model. Case in point: the relationship of Minor & Brown, my law firm, with the Morgan Adams Foundation, which raises money to raise hope for children with cancer.  This year M&B evolved from simple check-writing sponsor to full fledged non-profit/business/employee partnership, and it was one of the most rewarding things we’ve ever done.

Over half of our employees, lawyers and staff alike, and their family and friends participated at various stages of the MAF's artma event, beginning with our work with cancer patients at The Children’s Hospital, chronicled in this blog in January, through setting-up and staffing the event, and finally cleaning-up the event site.

In closing, here are some photos of our crew at artma 2010, having a great time giving of themselves and being wonderful ambassadors for our law firm. Next up, the Morgan Adams Concours d’Elegance in August; I guess I should tell them now that we can’t drive the cars or fly the planes.

Some photos are mine; the great ones are by Steven Adams of the Morgan Adams Foundation.
No Funny Lawyers?
Two of the works of the kids we helped at The Children's Hospital.

The MiBro night-of-the-event gang with Morgan Adams.

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