Corporate Giving That Gives Back

Philanthropic efforts can have a positive impact on both the community and the perception of your construction company within it

Tis the season for philanthropic gestures of all sorts as corporations seek to “spread good will” among their customers and prospects during the holiday season. The degree to which you believe in a company’s apparent generosity depends largely on your level of cynicism and any prior information or preconceptions you may have about a particular organization and its business practices. (Claims by Volkswagen as a champion of the environment would be tough to swallow, for example.)

Putting such cynicism aside, it is possible for a company to be both generous and enterprising in its philanthropic endeavors. The construction industry has proven this many times, whether through participation in local charitable drives, or donating equipment and personnel for disaster cleanup efforts whenever and wherever it’s needed. Big or small, such efforts showcase the company’s generosity, corporate citizenship and, in certain cases, its capabilities and area(s) of expertise to the communities affected.

A national construction services firm based in the Midwest is showcasing its efforts and abilities in a bigger, bolder way. It was announced last month that The Boldt Company, based in Appleton, WI, will be donating time and resources to make the campus of a new osteopathic medical college in Jefferson, WI, “shovel ready.” While exact figures for the donation weren’t provided, the value is estimated in the millions.

This reflects a hefty sum, but it’s not the company’s first sizable donation, though it is the first to a for-profit venture. However, the funding model for the College of Osteopathic Medicine project is predicated on gifts and grants, including the donation by the city of Jefferson of 100 acres of former agricultural land for the campus.

Boldt will donate time, personnel and resources to help get the $125 million project — which has seen its share of stumbling blocks — moving forward. The college will help fill a need by training qualified medical personnel, plus the construction process and college will generate hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in economic activity and income for the area.

For Boldt, the donation provides a chance to highlight its philanthropy on a large scale, and solidify its standing within the medical community, where it ranks as one of the top 10 healthcare builders in the country. In addition, Boldt plans to bid on construction of the academic structures. I suspect it will have a very good chance of being awarded the project.

A side benefit of such philanthropy is the ongoing positive publicity it generates. Not only was the initial donation front page news, once ground is broken, there will be positive “touch points” with the media for months to come.

It’s doubtful many construction firms have the resources for a donation on this scale. Yet, philanthropic efforts at any level can have a positive impact on the community and the perception of your company within it. Whether it’s donating time, money and equipment, or food, clothing and holiday gifts, giving back to those around you feels good — and can continue to be good for your business well after the holiday season has come and gone.