We hear a lot about winning nowadays with various views on who won, who lost and whether what happened was really a win. I’m a believer of trying to make situations “win-wins,” where all participants leave with something of value, whether it be financial, emotional or otherwise. While this certainly can’t always be the case, there are seemingly more opportunities where we all can be winners, if we so choose.
Corporate community involvement is one of the areas where the “win-win” concept is crucial for both businesses and localities to prosper. While Alexandria is generally not a city of large corporations, being more of an association/national nonprofit/small business town, it is increasingly becoming known for its growing business involvement to support the broader community. Credit for this involvement can be spread in several directions with much of the praise going to business owners who understand the importance of giving back to support the community which they call home.
According to Giving USA, corporate giving increased dramatically in 2015 (3.9%) to a high of 8.9% of total charitable giving. And while dollars are always welcome by nonprofits, there are many other ways for businesses to give back in their communities. Whether it be staffing a race, volunteering to paint a resident’s home, making sandwiches for the local shelter or providing food for a nonprofit event, there are numerous ways community-minded businesses can show their support for nonprofits and our city.
Locally, we have the benefit of many wonderful businesses which are supportive of the larger efforts of the community. One only has to look at the advertisements in this and other local news sources each week to see the outpouring of thanks to local businesses for their financial, in-kind, and volunteer support in the city. Whether it’s the twenty-five cents per burger at Holy Cow that goes to local nonprofits, which by the way has amounted to $77,500 through December 2016, or the outpouring of business community volunteers for Spring for Alexandria, Alexandria businesses want to give back while also seeing the “win-win” possibilities for all involved.
Yates Automotive, at the corner of Mount Vernon Avenue and Braddock Road, recently kicked-off their Give Your Two Cents program where two cents for each gallon of gas sold would be donated to local nonprofits. ACT was chosen as the April recipient of this new venture while ALIVE! will be benefitting from May’s proceeds. In another creative way to give back, Del Ray Café announced last week that, in honor of its fifth anniversary, it would be donating 5% of May’s proceeds to ACT for Alexandria. Two local women, Wendy Brown of the Maury Lane Fund, and Jen Walker of the Jen Walker Team at McEnearney Associates, Inc.-REALTORS, made surprise announcements that they would match the amount donated. With these donations going to support ACT’s capacity grants program to local nonprofits, the generosity of these donors will be returned to the community in this very distinct way of giving back to help others.
In addition, ACT has collaborated with numerous local businesses to create a mutually beneficial Corporate Partners program. We are pleased to be partnering this year with Alexandria Restaurant Partners, Access National Bank, Caudron-Megary-Blackburn Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, Colonial Parking, Grant Thornton, McEnearney Associates, Inc.-REALTORS, Reingold, Silverback Strategies, and Six Half Dozen. These organizations, as have many others, understand the benefit of working together on behalf of their businesses and, more importantly, our community.
We are truly lucky to live in a city where the business community understands the value of working together for the benefit of the broader community. We, in the nonprofit arena, thank all in the business community who work daily both to insure their businesses prosper but who also understand the importance of the helping others—the truest “win-win.”
-John Porter, ACT President & CEO
Special thanks to the Alexandria TImes for publishing John's monthly column.