The New North region is filled with generous companies dedicated to giving back to the community, evident in financial giving, sponsorships and fundraisers.
Now, more companies are also giving the gift of time. Even though company leaders know they’re providing an important service for area organizations, they believe they’re getting the most out of it.
Coalesce Marketing & Design in Appleton, for example, held a 24-hour marathon creative session called “2Gether4Good” (the 2 and 4 symbolizing the 24 hours of nonstop work) in May to aid three area nonprofit organizations with branding and marketing materials.
The organization received 24 applicants and ultimately chose Spierings Cancer Foundation and its annual Rock Cancer event, which received a total rebranding effort; COTS, a transitional housing program that received an annual report; and the Boys & Girls Brigade, which received folder and T-shirt designs. To help pull off the effort, Coalesce pulled in partners including BConnected, Charitibli, Jackson & Company Photography, Crimson Creative, N.E.W. Printing and the Community Foundation and had lots of ancillary support.
“We had so many visitors come throughout the day and night,” Coalesce Owner and Creative Director Lisa Piikkila says, noting that a shelving unit in one of their offices ended up completely stocked with food. “People were so excited about doing that and just wanted to come in.”
The Coalesce team also consumed a lot of energy drinks, she says.
On the Friday morning of the event, Coalesce held a rollout for members of all three organizations to see the work that had been created.
“How touching it was to see their reactions — it was almost overwhelming,” Piikkila says. “You’re living on no sleep, so it was kind of a tear-jerker. You just left that day feeling really good about what you did.”
The company is hoping to hold the event again this year.
On an annual basis, Wipfli LLP closes its doors company-wide for one day in September and sends its associates to volunteer at local organizations. The company was looking for a way to celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2005, says Dan Pichler, partner in charge of the Green Bay office.
Wipfli’s Green Bay associates have painted murals for area schools and organizations, harvested potatoes at the Bridge-Between Retreat Center in Denmark, worked on landscaping at Heritage Hill and sorted donated items at St. Vincent de Paul, to name just a few of its projects.
Liz Wallace, Wipfli Green Bay’s office manager, coordinates the effort for more than 100 employees, finding placement for each of them. “Green Bay is extremely lucky in that it has a lot of awesome nonprofits that can benefit from volunteering,” Wallace says.
Wipfli knew the volunteer day would be a good public relations opportunity, Pichler says. But it also wanted employees to have a chance to learn about community organizations and their needs. The best benefit has been the effect on team building.
“The true magic, selfishly, is we have associates at all different levels at all different jobs who otherwise don’t work together, working hand-in-hand on the project and getting to know each other,” Pichler says. “As much as I’d love to say it’s great and philanthropic, it really helps our relationships as an office.”
Employees of Thrivent Financial have been able to bond during domestic and international trips to build and repair houses for Habitat for Humanity, an organization with which the company has a strong affiliation, forming a partnership called Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity.
Thrivent has contributed more than $200 million to Habitat for Humanity, and it has built, rehabbed or repaired more than 4,200 homes, says Landon Wiese, a Habitat volunteer and financial representative for Thrivent.
“It really matches our values with what we’re trying to go out there and do,” Wiese says. “It serves our mission and our purpose, which is to serve members and society by guiding the two to be wise with money and to live generously.”
Wiese was among 120 volunteers through Thrivent Builds who traveled overseas in 2014 to work on houses. The company subsidizes Habitat build trips to places such as Central America, and since 2011, Thrivent has been working in Joplin, Mo., to replace houses lost in the devastating tornado. The company offers 20 hours annually of “VTO,” or volunteer time off.
Wiese is planning to lead another group to El Salvador in April. Last year, he helped to dig a well for a home.
“I’ve always had a passion for volunteering and I’ve always had an interest in building, so the two melded pretty perfectly together and I never looked back,” Wiese says. “It’s the right fit and it really lines up with my values, too, which is pretty cool.”
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