The Business of Giving Back

In December 2015, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, pledged to donate 99 percent of their $46 billion dollar holdings in Facebook, Inc. shares to charitable causes over the course of their lifetime. Setting a new philanthropic benchmark, Mr. and Mrs. Zuckerberg committed to give away their massive fortune while still only in their early 30s.

Mr. Zuckerberg, along with many other international corporations, understands the personal value of giving back. This shift in today’s business environment is composed of companies wanting their brand to be identified with those doing something good for others and, ultimately, making a difference in the world.

Companies taking on this challenge must be proactive about their philanthropic efforts, and several trends help set the path for leveraging financial success into giving back to others.

Connecting with the Community

Volunteering in all shapes and forms strengthens communities, brings people together and provides valuable experience and insight. When businesses become involved with their communities, connections occur and both the individuals and communities benefit.

Originally seeking to connect with their sons’ community, as well as desiring to own their own business, Lisa and Blake Holt researched franchise opportunities within the Dallas area. Of course, the Holts never expected that this search for their own business investment would end with them driving the streets of Allen and Frisco, offering frozen shaved ice goodness to local schools, PTAs, churches, sports leagues, booster clubs and other organizations.

Today, the owners of Kona Ice of Allen/Frisco could not be happier with how things have turned out. Since their opening on May 1, 2013, the business has donated more than $63,000 to both communities since they first started serving ice treats, which connected them deeply to the community. To date, all Kona Ice franchises, collectively, have donated more than $40 million to organizations nationwide. “From the beginning, we were looking for a business that was financially sound, but that also gave back to the community because this is so fundamental to who we are,” explains Mrs. Holt. “With every Kona event that qualifies with $300 in sales, 20 percent of profits go back to the organization of choice. For us, this means we are helping many local organizations and area events right here in our own neighborhood. We cannot express how much we are honored and humbled to be a part of the Kona Ice family.”

Now operating two trucks full-time, the Holts work at well-known events such as Frisco Freedom Fest, Downtown Frisco StrEATS and RoughRiders games, as well as local school activities, birthday parties and other events. Mrs. Holt continues, “This business is more than we could have hoped for. It is truly a gift to be a part of this organization, while connecting with our community.”

Building Respect and Reputation

When a company gives, it should be for only one reason – just to give. However, the by-product of giving often leads to stronger relationships between companies and community members, building goodwill and helping one another.

A sterling example of this symbiotic relationship includes the relationship between Steve Zeigler, the owner of the eight Jersey Mike’s locations throughout Plano, Allen and Frisco, and a multitude of community members and organizations throughout all three cities. Since 2009, Mr. Zeigler and his son have operated Jersey Mike’s franchises, opening each store by partnering with a charity within the local community to ensure that they always give back. Mr. Ziegler explains, “It is a bit of a cliché, but at my previous company, they talked the talk, but did not walk the walk. As we give back to Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer and to local groups like the Frisco Education Foundation and Leadership Frisco, we are able to see the fruits of our labor and understand the impact it makes to organizations throughout our community and nationwide.”

Through the franchises’ generosity, the community has, in turn, supported Jersey Mike’s throughout the area, visiting the restaurants and spreading goodwill about them. “Honestly, that is not our goal, but we are very thankful. We do very little advertising for our stores and we just continue to grow, but, we do not do it for the publicity — it is to truly make a difference. That is who we are and why we do it.”

Captivating Employees and Customers by Volunteering

Volunteerism is perhaps the greatest way to engage employees and customers in corporate philanthropy. Today’s employees want to make an impact and experience firsthand the kind of giving that helps nonprofits continue doing good for the world.

Legacy Plumbing implements a wide variety of programs to encourage their employees in giving back. In an effort to keep employees thinking about good causes in the community, Legacy Plumbing created a program that asks employees to nominate their good cause or organization of choice. Nominations are placed in a hat, and a name is drawn out for a monthly donation from the company. “One of our guiding principles at our company is to inspire employees to be their best selves, not just the best employee, but the best dad, the best brother, the best mom and more,” notes Michelle Young, co-owner of Legacy Plumbing. “We also ask employees to spread good by doing good, and we give back to our community through several yearly events. We want our employees and our customers to possess that same spirit in helping others.”

One such event involves providing back to school supplies and backpacks for battered women and children or displaced children who need assistance. Legacy Plumbing encourages their customers to help with this effort, so for every 15 pieces of school supplies or backpacks that are provided by customers, the service charge for calls are waived. A second example includes Legacy Plumbing owners and employees donating all of the plumbing and labor to a house built for someone in need. Mrs. Young continues, “We hope we make a difference in our employees and our customers’ lives. It is our passion.”

Making a Better Place to Live

Giving back also improves a company’s image in the eyes of community members and results in a better place to live and work for the company, its employees and the people who live there already.

Partnering with Dentistry from the Heart, a worldwide nonprofit organization, Dr. Travis Campbell, the owner of 380 Dental, has assembled a team of dental professionals at their location for six straight years, offering one day of free dental care and providing a total of $600,000 in care.

Dr. Campbell explains, “I got into dentistry to help people. This is what I love to do. Working with individuals through this event is incredibly rewarding. Everyone is so appreciative and grateful. From a personal point of view, I am so glad to help those who want and need it.”

With the rising cost of medical treatment, more and more people are having problems affording dental care. Dr. Campbell recruits the best doctors and staff in the area to volunteer for this big event. Over the course of the day, the first 100 patients who register receive dental care, including cleanings, fillings and extractions, absolutely free.

Over the past couple of years, Dr. Campbell has recruited three other dental offices in the Dallas/Fort Worth area to host their own events, in addition to serving on those days. He adds, “Truly, as volunteers, we get more out of serving than the patients — that is being helpful and used. It is really a heartwarming experience.”

Part of what sets Frisco apart are the people who make up the local businesses that drive our economy. The character and generosity of so many companies in our community truly makes an impact in the lives of others, while branding the business culture as a compassionate one. So, now, what will your business do to give back?

Carolyn Cameron
Carolyn Cameron is an online writer and marketer who fancies coffee, her family, random creative endeavors and finishing a home project in her off time.