This is the time of year when many of us remember the sacrifices of those serving in the military overseas, but some companies make it a year-long focus. Boeing, for example, made a $700,000 grant this year to the USO for the construction and operation of a mobile canteen, while IBM consultants helped Our Military Kids to develop a strategy for using social networking to get in touch with more kids and raise more money.
There’s a special place in heaven for those who care day after day for loved ones who are severely handicapped. To give them some respite, Marriott International has teamed with the National Children’s Center in providing “pampered weekends” at a nearby hotel.
Three big-time law firms — DLA Piper, Mayer Brown and Akin Gump — donated the equivalent of $1.6 million in billable hours to Appleseed this year to aid the 15,000 unaccompanied Mexican children who end up in federal custody every year. And those clever tax lawyers at Bryan Cave helped the YWCA of the National Capital Area come up with a new status that not only freed the organization from paying future taxes but also generated three years of tax rebates.
Building contractors and designers are always getting asked to donate materials and in-kind services to nonprofits. Last year, Balfour Beatty Construction and Greenebaum & Rose Associates were instrumental in the construction of a new Ronald McDonald House in the District. Woodbridge Plumbing donated generously to Project Mend-a-House in Manassas. And the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association and Brookfield Homes Washington teamed up on a condo makeover that Novaco now uses as a shelter for homeless survivors of domestic abuse.
Downriver Canoe Co. in Bentonville, Va., committed itself to donating $1 to the Shenandoah Riverkeeper Conservation Fund for every customer who was taken canoeing, kayaking or tubing on the South Fork this year. That came to more than $14,000, a pretty splashy contribution from a small, seasonal business. Cheers, too, to REI, which made a $20,000 gift to the Friends of Rock Creek’s Environment to care for that most urban of waterways on the advice of employees at its Rockville store.
The most effective way for any business to help a nonprofit, of course, is by developing an enduring partnership such as the one that exists between Excella Consulting of Arlington and Homestretch, a social service agency serving the homeless in Northern Virginia. In addition to a donation of $40,000, Excella employees volunteered more than 500 hours this year beautifying homes and finding donated furniture, while the company helped to rebuild Homestretch’s information systems. The Excella corporate holiday card features a drawing by a child at Homestretch, and the company holiday party includes a gift-giving program for Homestretch families.
Among other such deep partnerships are the ones between TerpSys and For Love of Children; insurance broker Statland & Katz and Community Bridges; Modern Technology Solutions and New Hope Housing; KPMG and Project GiveBack; and the law firm of Bregman, Berbert, Schwartz & Gilday and the National Center for Children and Families.
I would remiss if I failed to mention the help BB&T provided this year to PHILLIPS Programs; Deloitte and Everybody Wins! DC Power Lunch program; RBC Wealth Management and Super Leaders; AOL and the American Cancer Society; the Inter-American Development Bank and Food & Friends; Goodman & Co. and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation; Cardinal Bank and Inova’s Kellar Center; CPS Professional Services and Easter Seals; Downtown Locker Room and Metro TeenAIDS; and FedEx and Food and Friends.
Also Fieldstone Properties and Camp Fire USA; CustomInk.com and the Evans Group Home in Winchester; 3M and the National Park Trust; Noblis and Higher Achievement; EG&G Group and the District Alliance for Safe Housing; Amphora Bakery and the Lamb Center Shelter in Fairfax; LM&O Advertising and ThanksUSA; Equinox Restaurant and the Fair Fund; and Overhead Door Co. and Nick’s Place.
I would never have heard about any of these good works had it not been for the help of the United Way, the Meyer Foundation, the Catalogue of Philanthropy and the Greater Washington Board of Trade. In fact, there were many more than I could list. If I overlooked yours, mark your calendar for early December, and try again next year.
The column returns in the new year. Have a wonderful holiday.