Donating money for veterans’ causes. Partner- ing with nonprofits on their fundraising walks. Creating a curriculum for students to learn about their industries. Performing free medical screenings. Volunteering. Donating scholarships.
Local companies are part of a traditional and grow- ing practice of corporate social responsibility. Put simply, they’re giving back.
The Nielsen Global Survey on Corporate Responsibility consistently shows that more than half of online consumers around the world—whose feedback is naturally easier to acquire than customers of brick and mortar stores—are willing to pay more for products and services from companies that are socially and environmentally responsible.
Practicing business with a conscience in a visible way is becoming more and more important not only to consumers but employees as well.
In studies cited by Fortune magazine last year, employees who believe their companies give back to the community are 13 times more likely to look forward to coming to work than their counterparts at companies that are not particularly philanthropic. Research behind Forbes’ Best Workplaces list, too, revealed that employees who had positive experiences of giving back at their workplaces were four times more likely to say their teams would be willing to give extra to get a job finished.
Those employees are also more likely to spread the word as ambassadors for their companies. And in this era of branding, that buy-in from employees gives a firm a big boost.
Investors are putting their money behind social responsibility, too. Environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors continue to influence decisions financial backers are making and in fact, concern among investors is reaching a tipping point, according to a May Harvard Business Review article.
Young investors, in particular, are scrutinizing companies for their social responsibility. A study this year by Aflac showed that 41 percent of millennial investors look into a company’s commitment to improving society and the environment before supporting it, compared with 27 percent of Gen X investors and 16 percent of baby boomers.
And in Southwest Florida, there are numerous examples of companies that care. What do they do? We’ve compiled samples—we acknowledge that there are many more—of the many causes that businesses and their employees undertake each month of each year. Our examples were collected from a variety of sources, including public relations agencies, direct contact with companies and our own sleuthing.
Associates & Bruce L. Scheiner
The Fort Myers law firm takes part in March of Dimes Bikers for Babies Charity event, sponsor of Cape Coral Bike Night, awards students with the annual Make A Difference Award and helped to start Mother Against Drunk Drivers Southwest Florida chapter.
Bank of America
Bank of America has supported Southwest Florida in many ways this year. Examples include its partnership with Harry Chapin Food Bank to raise more than $90,000 for the Give a Meal program addressing local hunger issues. And in September it became the first corporation to fund the construction of the Gulfshore Playhouse’s new theatre, donating $250,000 to the project.
Beck Companies started out in Glades County, and owner Derek Beck hasn’t forgotten where he came from. Last summer, his residential and commercial services firm renovated the roof of Christian Church of Moore Haven at no charge as a way of giving back to his roots. Its refurbishment made the roof stronger and able to withstand hurricanes just ahead of this year’s storm season.
BCB Homes is working with The Immokalee Foundation to develop a residential construction training program that will provide education, guidance, paid internships and certifications to high school students, starting in the Immokalee area. Representatives from BCB are writing a curriculum and are working with Immokalee Technical College to start the program. BCB has donated nearly $20,000 to The Immokalee Foundation, as well as countless hours and resources, for this mission.
Boston Red Sox
Showing appreciation for the team’s summer home, the Red Sox team holds its annual Swing for the Sox golf tournament to raise money to provide one high school senior from each of the local public high schools a $5,000 scholarship. Players volunteer time at the Harry Chapin Food Bank and nonprofits such as the Golisano Children’s Hospital, Boys & Girls Clubs, the Alliance for the Arts and Home Base for Veterans.
Chico’s FAS and its brands—Chico’s, White House Black Market and Soma—join forces with Habitat for Humanity to build affordable homes for families, partner with the American Heart Association to help women build healthier lives, help women gain knowledge of living and treating breast cancer with Living Beyond Breast Cancer and support women through their journey to motherhood with Golisano Children’s Hospital. Together with its partners, Chico’s is committed to making Greater Fort Myers a better place to live and work.
Collins Vision has a longstanding commitment to service in Southwest Florida. Led by founder Dr. Michael J. Collins, Collins Vision embodies a culture of giving that is carried out in a variety of ways. From supporting the March of Dimes and the United Way to involvement in the local grassroots organization, Captains for Clean Water, Collins Vision gives to and serves the community in countless ways. It’s not uncommon to find Dr. Collins donating a cataract surgery or pterygium removal through United Way’s We Care Program. Or to find the team providing gifts and meals for sponsored families around the holidays.
Cre8 Salon & Spa
The Cape Coral business has given back to the Alzheimer’s Association for many years, and in June organized an attempt at the world’s largest ice bucket challenge in Cape Coral.
Creighton Construction & Development
Creighton Construction & Development recently hosted its seventh annual fishing tournament for its staff, clients and project partners that raises money for the Wounded Warriors of South Florida. Creighton’s 2018 event brought together more than 150 anglers and 37 boats to raise more than $41,500 to provide assistance to wounded veterans and their families. As a supporter of the Rotary Club of Fort Myers South, Creighton Construction & Development has served as title sponsor for the organization’s Law and Order Ball every year.
DeRomo’s Gourmet Market & Restaurant
Every quarter, DeRomo’s Gourmet Market & Restaurant hosts a wine showcase, complete with stations of featured and private-label wines as well as small bites from the menu. A portion of the proceeds from these events benefit Empty Bowls Naples — a nonprofit that raises money and awareness in the fight against hunger, or LARC — a nonprofit that enriches the lives of people with developmental disabilities through education and opportunity. Its philanthropic efforts this year have also included donating to Zonta Club of Bonita Springs – Estero, Inc.’s 2019 Woman of the Year annual fundraiser, supporting Lee County Food Rescue’s “Donated not Wasted” campaign and being actively involved with the Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce.
Edison National Bank
Edison National Bank and Bank of the Islands offices are active in community philanthropy, contributing to numerous organizations, including 21st Century C.A.R.E.S., American Business Women’s Association, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, Charitable Foundation of the Islands, J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Do the Right Thing, Dress for Success, Early Learning Coalition, Edison Festival of Lights, Edison Ford Winter Estates Foundation, Florida Gulf Coast University, Foundation for Lee County Public Schools and Goodwill Industries. Over the course of 21 years in business, Edison National Bank has given approximately $3 million in sponsorships, donations and support for the benefit of the Lee County community.
First Florda Integrity Bank
First Florida Integrity Bank’s Project Donation was created by employees to personally contribute on a weekly basis to assist local families facing overwhelming circumstances or hardships. The 11th annual Charity Golf Tournament again raised over $100,000 for locally based children’s charities, bringing its total raised since 2009 to more than $900,000.
Florida Skin Center
In 2018, Florida Skin Center launched “Dermatology from the Heart,” a program through which practice team members select one or more organizations that will receive donations in the coming year. Recently, Dr. Aurora Badia and her staff donated $3,000 to two regional charities—Children’s Advocacy Center of Southwest Florida and The New Beginnings of SWFL, Inc.—to receive part of over $88,000 that Florida Skin Center has donated since 2015. Florida Skin Center has provided free skin examinations to patients by appointment or at office-wide events. Its philanthropic spirit prompted Florida Skin Center’s physician assistant to travel thousands of miles, also, on a 10-day medical volunteer trip to India to help treat over 2,500 local villagers.
Fort Myers Brewing Company
The Gateway establishment has contributed more than $50,000 in the past year in support of organizations like Captains for Clean Water, Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge, Gulf Coast Humane Society, Harry Chapin Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, Junior League and Valerie’s House. The company takes care of people on a personal level as well. Owners have raised money for therapy for a member of a band that often performs at the brewery who had a stroke, and for local food truck proprietors who lost their home.
Garvin Injury Law
Attorneys Jeff Garvin and Leland Garvin are a local father-and-son team. Leland Garvin was instrumental in founding Captains for Clean Water by providing legal guidance, and he continues to serve on its board of directors. He accompanied the two founding captains and other board members to Washington, D.C., to support the Reservoir Project to safeguard Florida’s marine and fishing industries. Jeff and Leland have visited Washington and Tallassee to advocate for bills providing relief to our local waterways.
Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice & Purtz
Hand in hand with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the local law firm has worked to bring awareness to and eliminate impaired driving by sponsoring Walk Like MADD 5K at Jet Blue Park at Fenway South and the briefing dinner for Saturation Saturday, involving five local law enforcement divisions as part of a statewide effort to prevent DUIs.
While its business is art, its education program is heavily focused on community partnerships and collaborations. Last year, the playhouse’s education programs engaged nearly 12,000 people through after-school, in-school and audience engagement classes, 90 percent of whom participated at no cost due to scholarships and grants. Members collaborate with local schools on their productions, spreading a love of the arts throughout the region.
The owners of Fathoms, Gather, The French Press and Black Salt Culinary held fundraising events for Cape Coral teachers, helped send food and supplies to people in the Keys that were impacted by Hurricane Irma and have held fundraising events for animal shelters.
Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt
The Fort Myers law firm, which is 95 years old, continues to support charitable organizations across Southwest Florida, including the United Way of Lee, Hendry, Glades, and Okeechobee Counties. As part of its 2019 Pacesetter campaign, attorneys and staff could purchase duct tape and tape three volunteers—Kenneth Crooks (chief operating officer) Douglas Szabo (business litigation department chair) and Eric Gurgold (wills, trusts and estate department chair)—to the wall. This one event raised over $1,000!
Each year, Jennifer’s hosts month-long food drive. This year, the effort resulted in 1,200 pounds of food. She holds school supply, toy and hurricane relief drives, donates gift certificates to fundraisers and hosts charity fashion shows. Jennifer’s gives back through Fashion Forward Fridays where a portion of the day’s proceeds are donated to non-profits. This also gives the non-profit exposure to clients who may support the cause or volunteer. Jennifer’s has donated in excess of $70,000 over seven years.
Kitson & Partners
Employees of the company participate in a volunteer day each year, which in the past has benefited Habitat for Humanity, Palm Beach County Food Bank, South Florida Science Museum, Calusa Nature Center, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Special Equestrians. They take care of animals as well, donating linens, towels and blankets for Big Dog Ranch Rescue. Its restaurants at Babcock Ranch weekly donate 70 to 100 pounds of scrap vegetables to feed the animals at the Octagon Wildlife Sanctuary in Punta Gorda.
Not every valuable gift can be wrapped in a box. Awareness and conversations in the community can build bridges and encourage philanthropy as well. Fort Myers’ Laboratory Theatre has presented shows and community discussions on a variety of themes about topics such as the Holocaust, LGBT and transgender issues, Hispanic and black heritage, human trafficking, minority representation in the arts, breast cancer and domestic violence awareness.
Lipman Family Farms
The Immokalee-based produce grower hosts the annual backpack giveaway in Immokalee that gives school supplies and bikes to thousands of needy school children.
London Bay Homes
It’s been said that a company’s personality is set at the top, and London Bay Homes’ President and CEO Mark Wilson supports that theory. Wilson is a Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame Laureate. His company has raised money to support underserved children in Immokalee and to mentoring students through real-training tutoring programs. The Guadalupe Center and Golisano Children’s Hospital have benefited from London Bay’s community-mindedness, as have numerous students who have become interns for the company.
McGriff Insurance Services
Now in its 25thyear, the Blue Chip Award has been a fixture at McGriff as a way to recognize small businesses in the community who have overcome adversity to achieve success. McGriff participates annually in a Lighthouse Project, a community service initiative that benefits local needy. Firm leadership hosts an annual Thanksgiving dessert auction to benefit local non-profit organizations and events. The company also encourages employees to get involved by providing time off to volunteer.
For more than 30 years, Mitchell Dentistry has taken care of smiles of all ages, and has put smiles on many of the youngest faces. For years, patients who visit Mitchell Dentistry around the holiday season have become familiar with the playpen overflowing with gifts destined for the holiday toy drive for the Dr. Piper Center for Social Services in Fort Myers, an organization more than 100 years old that helps the region’s children and elderly.
Norman Love of Norman Love Confections
Donations of in-kind product are about as good as money in the bank when Norman Love Confections is involved. The company has donated tens of thousands in chocolates to more than 200 local nonprofits in Lee County. Norman and Mary Love also created the charity event 3 Wishes, convincing celebrity chefs to support local children’s healthcare programs including Golisano Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House and Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Publix Super Markets opened its first store in Winter Haven in 1930 with six associates. Today, Publix operates 1128 stores across seven states and has more than 202,000 associates. Giving back is a cornerstone of their culture. Their focus areas are youth, education, homelessness, and hungry. Last year alone, Publix associates and Publix Super Markets Charities gave more than $65 million to United Way, alone.
Sanibel Captiva Community Bank
The numbers speak for Sanibel Captiva Community Bank. More than 65 percent of its employees volunteer for causes in Southwest Florida, together logging more than 1,000 hours annually. In addition, since opening in 2003, the bank has given well over $1 million dollars to charitable causes, most recently partnering with Grampy’s Charities to support Robbie’s Riders, which makes it possible to present adaptive bicycles to handicapped children.
The Shell Factory & Nature Park
For 15 years, The Shell Factory’s Nature Park has served as an animal rescue and educational foundation. Through funding from The Nature Park Environmental Education Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Nature Park provides a permanent home, nutritious meals and veterinary care to hundreds of animals, reptiles, birds and aquatic inhabitants.
The Fort Myers auto group puts $200,000 annually toward a variety of causes that support the health and wellbeing of Southwest Floridians of all ages. Recipients of the company’s generosity have been the Boys & Girls Clubs, the United Way, Habitat for Humanity both locally and internationally, Barbara’s Friends, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, Arts for ACT, the Harry Chapin Food Bank, plus numerous golf tournaments, parades and benefit races.
Scott Fischer Enterprises
Company President Scott Fisher helped found and is chairman of the board of the local Blessings in a Backpack, has donated use of his Top Rocker Field to nonprofit organizations for fundraisers and is involved with of Junior Achievement.
Spada Salon & Spa
The fort Myers business gives annually to Golisano Children’s Hospital and Pace Center for Girls by hosting Spadathon; in 2017, the event raised $11,000 for Valerie’s House.
The Naples-based homebuilder sponsors for multiple PACE Center for Girls events, including Love that Dress. Stock has also worked with Habitat for Humanity in both Naples and Sarasota, and recently sponsored, donated building materials for, and volunteered staff to help build two homes in Hammock Place.
Storm Smart, with showrooms in Fort Myers and Naples, stands on the front lines of veterans’ causes. Over the summer, the company donated $100 of every purchase of a storm protection system and products valued at $2,500 or more Collier-Lee Honor Flight, the organization that takes veterans to the monuments commemorating their time of service. For the same cause, Storm Smart hosted a second annual Tee-Off for Take-Off Golf Tournament, which raised more than $80,000, about the cost to fly one plane of veterans to Washington, D.C.
Studio+ team members are encouraged to be involved in their community by providing them an additional 16 hours per year, just so they can volunteer. They also host monthly barbeques, with each benefiting a nonprofit organization. During the holidays, they adopt several families in need, providing them with gifts and food. Only a few examples of how Studio+ exists to transform the lives they touch.
The Estero construction company calls its major fundraiser for the American Heart Association Heart Walk Naples by an appropriate name: Hard Hats for Hearts. It serves as a kickoff event for the walk each year. Employees also participate in the walk. They also build bikes for local kids who need them during the holidays and participate in beach cleanups. The company says it believes in “the power of people,” and those who work at Suffolk demonstrate that with their volunteerism. Collier, Collier County 4-H Association, Collier County Junior Deputies League, Northside Naples Kiwanis Club and The Morning Rotary Club of Bonita Springs.
Sunshine Ace Hardware
The company’s slogan is “Care for your Neighbor.” It has lent its support to American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen, Junior Achievement, Shelter for Abused Women & Children, YMCA, Rotary, Habitat for Humanity, Children’s Miracle Network and American Red Cross, among others. Its “Reel in the Sunshine” event benefits the Southwest Florida Muscular Dystrophy Association, while the Big Green EGGFest supports Youth Leadership.
Target Roofing & Sheet Metal
Target Roofing has given back in the form of sponsorships, including March of Dimes, Pace Center for Girls, Community Cooperative, Bishop Verot, St. Francis Xavier School, Legacy Cheerleading, Tomstock Music Festival, the Fort Myers Pro Rodeo and others. The company regularly supports veterans causes and provides pro bono roofing services to individuals in need through its strong partnership with Lee BIA Builders Care.
The Terraces at Bonita Springs
The Terraces at Bonita Springs Foundation recently announced the fifth annual scholarship awards for 11 staff members at the luxury senior living community. The recipients have an opportunity to further their education. Donors are comprised of residents, family members, and friends who contribute to the foundation’s scholarship fund throughout the year. A total of $31,800 was raised this year. The scholarship selection committee includes resident donors and management. Last year, the foundation for the luxury senior living community awarded 13 associates a total of $25,000 in scholarships, more than doubling the prior year’s amount.
Consistency is a hallmark of United Mechanical’s spirit of giving in the community. The heating, air conditioning and plumbing contractor participates in the United Way’s Days of Caring, and is a partner in Stockings for Kids, which provides 2,500 stockings for children in Southwest Florida during the holidays. The company sponsors numerous golf tournaments and the Sam Galloway, Jr. & Friends Soup Kitchen benefit for Community Cooperative, as well as the local efforts of the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
The company targets philanthropic efforts to reinforce litter prevention, environmental awareness, and safety for the communities that they serve. This means Keep Collier Beautiful, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Waste Watch Program.
—Compiled by Dayna Harpster