Corporate philanthropy doesn’t have to be painful. As many Southwest Washington businesses have demonstrated in the past year, it can be a creative, fun part of the work your business already does.
Jeans for a cause
At the regional law firm of Schwabe, Williamson and Wyatt, employees and attorneys have an opportunity one Friday a month to wear jeans – for $5. Each month, a different area nonprofit, suggested by employees who are involved with them, is the beneficiary.
In the four months since the program began, $6,500 has been raised, said Director of Secretarial Services Virginia Zingg.
“When we decided to do it, the concern was whether anybody would really want to pay $5 to wear jeans,” she said.
But employees are more than happy to chip in – often paying more than $5 – even those who don’t end up wearing jeans, said Kelly Walsh, an attorney at the firm’s Vancouver office who sits on the YWCA Clark County’s board of directors.
The YWCA benefitted from one of the giving campaigns, which also have served to raise interest in the nonprofits being supported.
“There is actual interest in what the charity is doing and how the money is going to help,” Walsh said.
Come on get yappy
The Restaurant at the Historic Reserve is the home of “Yappy Hour,” where both dog lovers and their pooches can enjoy canine-themed drinks and hors d’oeuvres on the veranda during summer months to support Must Love Dogs NW, a Vancouver-based dog rescue organization.
Employees at the Restaurant dreamed up the fundraiser and created the gourmet dishes, including for dogs the Poultry in Motion (chicken broth garnished with duck paté) and the Gravy Train (turkey gravy made into a “biscuit and gravy” by adding a home-made dog biscuit).
Humans have access to a pack of clever cocktails, such as the Border Collins, St. Beernard and Lynchberg Lab.
Biking for home building
Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, a financial services organization with offices in Vancouver, is planning the inaugural Tour de Builds, a fundraising bike ride with stops at active Habitat for Humanity build sites. Proceeds will benefit the Habitat for Humanity affiliates of Vancouver, Portland, Gresham and Hillsboro.
Originally, the Sept. 27 ride was to make the rounds to build sites in Vancouver, Gresham, Hillsboro and Portland. But the event hasn’t garnered the riders needed for such a route, so it’s been pared down to sites in Portland and Gresham, with the celebration of a wall raising in Portland at the end.
Event organizer and Thrivent Financial Associate Mike Maidl had the idea for the event, looking for a way to combine his passions of cycling and Habitat for Humanity.
“It’s a lot of fun to go out and work on building a house,” said Maidl, a longtime Habitat volunteer. “Through providing better housing, we’re providing much better and stronger communities.”
Dining for donations
Several area restaurants use their fare to raise money for charitable organizations, including Irby’s Fine Wines and Bistro in Battle Ground and the Heathman Lodge’s Hudson’s Bar and Grill in Vancouver.
Irby’s turned a conundrum into a vehicle for giving when Washington’s smoking ban went into affect. The restaurant was known for its cigar selection, but with the ban, found itself with an empty humidor room.
Now for an extra $10, it can be reserved for parties of up to five to dine privately by candlelight and the $10 goes to the North County Food Bank.
Hudson’s Bar and Grill launched its second Helping Hands campaign in July, this time to raise $10,000 for Northwest Children’s Outreach and Believe In Miracles for Brandon Hendrick, which benefits a former Vancouver Heathman employee who has a form of bone cancer called osteosarcoma.
The Clark County nonprofits will receive 10 percent of all revenue raised every Sunday starting at 4 p.m. through the end of November.
“Every year we get hundreds of donation requests, so we have to be strategic,” said Director of Marketing Daina Galster. “We brainstormed about what would make the biggest impact on the community, and came up with Helping Hands.”
The restaurant hit its goal of $10,000 in the April through June campaign to benefit Vancouver nonprofits Innovative Services NW and YWCA Clark County, and is on track to reach the goal again, Galster said.
Megan Patrick-Vaughn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.