Corporate giving has positive impact on business, community

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May 10, 2024

PHOTO: BOBBY JENKINS

From left are Austin Cares’ Bethany Leffingwell and Bobby Jenkins with local CBS affiliate “We Are Austin” co-host Chelsey Hernandez, talking about the program in 2023. PHOTO: BOBBY JENKINS

When I think about the things we have done at ABC Home & Commercial Services to help promote and grow the business, membership in professional organizations is near the top of the list. And the one that has probably meant the most to us is the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce.

I have been a chamber member from the beginning. Being active in it helps me get involved and play a role in the direction of my local business community. The group represents the interests of local businesses at City Hall, is a great source of business education, and is ideal for networking and business development.

Facilitating philanthropy

Austin Gives has been the chamber’s main philanthropic initiative for about 13 years. The concept is simple: A company commits to give back at least 1 percent of its profits to local charities. The company can write a check, donate services or volunteer time — that familiar “time, talent or treasure” proposition.

Chamber companies sign a pledge stating they will give at least 1 percent of their profits on an annual basis. By doing this, the company is recognized as an Austin Gives Company. This helps let the community know local businesses are playing an important role in making our community better by giving back. We put a spotlight on business philanthropy, and hopefully inspire other companies to join us.

Each year, an Austin Gives Luncheon celebrates companies that excel at corporate giving. A selection committee chooses the nominated finalists and ultimate winners. We classify them into large, medium and small categories and then produce a video for each finalist.

The videos give these companies the opportunity to share their giving philosophy and how they give back. The stories are shared at the luncheon and are always incredibly inspirational and educational. We also recognize an individual who has been an example of philanthropic generosity over an extended period.

Bobby Jenkins

Bobby Jenkins

In addition to the annual luncheon, we have mixers every other month where Austin Gives companies come together to share ideas on corporate giving.

Giving for the win

I am very proud that the Austin Chamber of Commerce puts a high priority on business philanthropy. There is no charge to any company to be an Austin Gives member, just the pledge to give back. There is no requirement as to who the company must donate to; each business gives to the charity or charities of its choice. We have corporate sponsors for the luncheon, and that’s how we pay for the program.

By creating this culture of giving in the business community, we are creating a win, win, win. When businesses give to a charity, that charity obviously benefits. When companies are seen as givers and have a purpose, they win with their employees because people want to work with companies that give back. The third win is that those in the community want to do business with companies that strive to make a positive impact.

Ultimately, everyone is better off when companies give back and support the non-profit charities in their community. It’s my hope that others will replicate this simple model. It’s a great way for local chambers to make a positive impact in their communities.

About the Author

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JENKINS, who rotates this column with his brothers Raleigh and Dennis, is president of ABC Home & Commercial Services, Austin, Texas. He can be reached at bjenkins@goanteater.com.

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