Tag Archives: Aubrey Lynch

What We Learned About Corporate Philanthropy at SB2

From L to R: Panelists Kelly Caldwell, Rod Hershberger, keynote speaker Connie Smith and panelists Aubrey Lynch and Lisa Krouse. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

From L to R: Panelists Kelly Caldwell, Rod Hershberger, keynote speaker Connie Smith and panelists Aubrey Lynch and Lisa Krouse. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

It is no secret that Sarasota is a giving place made up of giving people that work for giving companies and own giving businesses. The high occurrence of philanthropically planned discussions and forums throughout the year are an indicator that our community and non-profits are hungry for innovations in donor relations, maximizing giving potential and making the most of instruction in charitable opportunities.

Yesterday, SRQ | The Magazine hosted a sold-out SB2 breakfast, The Art of Corporate Philanthropy, at The Francis in downtown Sarasota. As guests filled their plates with a delicious spread morning favorites (we are partial to the bacon),  Jeff Mayers of the Resort at Longboat Key Club welcomed those in attendance and spoke to the importance of company-wide giving. The resort is known for giving to a variety of community organizations that serve at risk populations, foster a strong sense of community and develop our region through economic and the business sector.

Jeff Mayers, General Manager of The Resort at Longboat Key Club welcomed guests on behalf of SB2 Series Sponsors. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Jeff Mayers, General Manager of The Resort at Longboat Key Club welcomed guests on behalf of SB2 Series Sponsors. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Before introducing the keynote speaker, Steve Ellis of MGB Homes proudly introduced his company’s dedication to corporate giving. “All of our employees are given one day a month to volunteer their time to worthy causes in the community,” said Ellis. Additionally, MGB Homes proudly supports various causes in the community. Ellis recognized the importance of corporations like Wells Fargo & Company, represented by the keynote speaker, setting the standard for investment in operations that make life better for so many.

Steve Ellis, co-founder of MGB Homes shared the company giving philosophy before introducing the keynote speaker. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Steve Ellis, co-founder of MGB Homes shared the company giving philosophy before introducing the keynote speaker. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Each year, Wells Fargo & Company ranks amongst the most charitable organizations in Florida. Since 2011, the company has given over $1.1 billion to organizations and people who make a difference. In the state of Florida, Wells Fargo consistently ranks among the top most giving institutions and has an active community relations group dedicated to the distribution of funds in the areas of community development, education, human services, arts and culture, civic engagement and the environment. Quite simply, Wells Fargo & Company is funding causes that matter through a process that speaks to its obvious culture of corporate philanthropy.

Connie E.W. Smith of Wells Fargo & Company of Florida delivered the keynote presentation. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Connie E.W. Smith of Wells Fargo & Company of Florida delivered the keynote presentation. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Leading this corporate culture of generosity in Florida is Connie E.W. Smith, Wells Fargo Diverse Community Capital Program Manager and keynote speaker at The Art of Corporate Philanthropy. When describing why Wells Fargo is dedicated to giving back, Smith shared a portion of Wells Fargo’s vision and values with us, “This is not about charity. It’s about intelligent and thoughtful investing in the future of the communities where our team members and customers live and work.” In an age where businesses are constantly petitioned to give, making philanthropic decisions that give and keep giving to individuals in our backyards is important. Wells Fargo invests in the missions of organizations and in causes where their expertise makes a difference, like Hands on Banking®, which prepares young people, seniors and military for financial independence with basic budgeting, foundational banking skills and how to save.

Local panelists Kelly Caldwell of Caldwell Trust Company, Rod Hershberger of PGT Industries, Lisa Krouse of FCCI Insurance Group and Aubrey Lynch of CS&L CPAs gave a thoughtful feedback on what it means to be a company dedicated to giving.

Here’s what we learned about corporate philanthropy:

1. Giving is all about relationships. Time after time, our panelists shared stories about how their corporate giving is dramatically influenced by the support and at the request of their employees, regardless of the level of leadership within the company.

“We get our direction from our employees,” said Lisa Krouse. “They are our compass.” When an FCCI employee cares about a cause and requests assistance via funding or volunteerism, the company listens. For non-profits, expanding their reach to connect with businesses like FCCI Insurance Group pays off with loyalty to their mission.

Panelists answer questions at The Art of Corporate Philanthropy. From L to R: Kelly Caldwell, Rod Hershberger, Wes Roberts (center, moderator), Lisa Krouse and Aubrey Lynch. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Panelists answer questions at The Art of Corporate Philanthropy. From L to R: Kelly Caldwell, Rod Hershberger, Wes Roberts (center, moderator), Lisa Krouse and Aubrey Lynch. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

In the devastating aftermath of weather events that recently affected Haiti, PGT Industries did more than the average company would do, and for good reason. “We have 90 employees with ties to Haiti. Collectively, they had over 700 family members that were affected. So we shipped supplies that met their immediate needs,” said Rod Hershberger. And the reason why they went through numerous channels to make it happen? Because it mattered tremendously to the PGT Industries employees and therefore mattered to Rod and the entire PGT Industries team.

2. Cultivating a corporate culture of giving is easier than you think. Making a commitment to giving doesn’t have to follow a set formula: hours + dollars = a charitable mission, isn’t the case for every company. And it doesn’t have to be.

“It starts from the top,” said Krouse. “The leaders have to believe that giving is the right thing to do. And they have to recognize the value, not the ROI, but realizing that doing the right thing has value.” The structure of how to give is less important than they proverbial “why.”

Aubrey Lynch mentioned something in particular that resonated with those in attendance. “Be flexible. Not everyone has the same ability to give through monetary contributions. But, CS&L CPAs has 100% participation in corporate giving.” There, employees are encouraged to serve on boards, participate in company supported 5K runs, toy drives, volunteer or donate to an organization that matters to them. “In the end, it keeps us grounded. The charity you support is an individual choice because everyone’s life shapes what they care about, but the process of giving makes you grateful.”

Aubrey Lynch of CS&L CPAs discusses the impressive impact of their corporate giving plan. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Aubrey Lynch of CS&L CPAs discusses the impressive impact of their corporate giving plan. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

3. As our workforce changes, so does the urgency to give. “Before you know it, the younger generation of employees at your company will soon be running it,” said Hershberger. “Our younger people want to be included and make a difference now. We need to give them the opportunity to give and to give to organizations where they can see the results of their giving now.”

This changing workforce demographic of younger people often means that new recruits are looking for a corporate giving structure off the bat. All of the panelists agreed that their giving is not done to draw attention to the company or for a feigned expression of generosity, many noted that sharing the corporate giving policy with potential employees has become a very important part of the hiring process.

“Giving is now becoming a bigger part of recruitment. It is important for young professionals, and when there is a decision to be made on an offer, young professionals are looking for corporate giving,” said Krouse.

But it is also worth noting that the companies also gain insight on a future employee by sharing their corporate giving strategy. As the head of recruitment for CS&L CPAs, Aubrey Lynch admitted the importance of knowing whether a recruit will be a good match for the company based on this one telling question.

Kelly Caldwell of Caldwell Trust Company addresses the crowd on making educated structured giving via trusts. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Kelly Caldwell of Caldwell Trust Company addresses the crowd on making educated structured giving via trusts. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

When cultivating a giving culture and workforce, we shouldn’t be thinking just of the demographic for those being hired, we should start with the very young. “I recently brought my young boys to a local food bank to volunteer,” said Kelly Caldwell. “We want to keep our kids here and fostering a giving nature in them is so important for our future.”

Of all that we learned, we can’t wrap up this post without mentioning a quote that very simply and eloquently summed up the entire morning. Panelist Lisa Krouse said, “Generosity binds people.” In a packed room full of philanthropists, business executives and everyone in between, she couldn’t have been more right. The generosity of Sarasota has a way of binding our community in a way like no other shared interest. It has the power to bind employees and give them a sense of pride for that they do and who they work for, and it has the power to fill a room with people who care about giving back – even at 7:30 in the morning.

Guests listen to the panel discussion at SB2. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Guests listen to the panel discussion at SB2. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

The SB2 series is loyally supported by The Resort at Longboat Key Club, CS&L CPAs and The Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. The keynote speaker for The Art of Corporate Philanthropy was supported through a sponsorship by MGB Homes. Special thanks to our panelists who spoke so candidly about their giving initiatives and to Connie Smith for her diligent work on behalf of Wells Fargo for enriching the state through impactful corporate giving.

Representatives from SB2 Series Sponsor CS&L CPAs at The Art of Corporate Philanthropy. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

Representatives from SB2 Series Sponsor CS&L CPAs at The Art of Corporate Philanthropy. Photo credit: Wyatt Kostygan

To view a gallery of photos from the event, click here. Tickets for the full 2015-2016 SB2 Series are available online at SRQSB2.COM.

SB2: What We Learned About Retirement, Our Aging Community and Workateering

Panelists with Moderator Wes Roberts. From L to R: Kelly Caldwell, Erin McLeod, Wes Roberts, Kathy Black, Robert Karnick, Aubrey Lynch and Tim Hearon.

Panelists with Moderator Wes Roberts. From L to R: Kelly Caldwell, Erin McLeod, Wes Roberts, Kathy Black, Robert Karnick, Aubrey Lynch and Tim Hearon. Photo Credit: Evan Sigmund

At SB2 last week, a crowd gathered early to get an answer to a big question: is retirement still retirement? We, too, were curious. In fact, we were so curious that we assembled some of the most knowledgeable people we know in their respective fields to get their perspective. We had a lot of ground to cover – from financial and estate planning to employment opportunities for the aging, life expectancies and even universal design. But with the help of our esteemed panelists, we got some answers and feel better prepared to navigate the road ahead.

Aubrey Lynch of CS&L CPAs served as the opening presenter. Specializing in estate planning, Aubrey provided the perfect introduction for the symposium. Florida is an attractive state for relocation – and retirees in particular, due to the state’s friendly tax environment. In serving families that have lost a loved one, or a surviving spouse, Aubrey reminded those in attendance that when planning for the future proper communication is the most valuable preparation anyone can provide.

Panelist Robert Karnick answers a question during the panel discussion.

Panelist Robert Karnick answers a question during the panel discussion. Photo Credit: Evan Sigmund

Of all the ground our panelists covered, the most important ideas for our region can be boiled down to this:

1. If you can, work longer.

  • People are living longer. It’s a fact. And the longer we live, the more expenses we incur. If the age of retirement remains constant at 65 without taking into account the increasing life expectancy, retirees could find themselves in unexpected financial hardship. Kelly Caldwell of Caldwell Trust Company recommends an exercise in expectation in order to plan realistically. “First, you need to determine what is your desired quality of life.” Meeting with a planning professional can help you set attainable goals for the future and can bring perspective to your planning. “If you can, work longer. If you can work part-time in retirement, you should.”
  • Echoing that sentiment, Kathy Black, Ph.D Professor of Social Work and Gerontology, University of South Florida at Sarasota/Manatee shared news from a recent study. “Work as long as you can. Save as long as you can.”
  • Programs and organizations like Boomerswork, operated by panelist Tim Hearon are working to change the way employers think about hiring boomers. “Our mission is to help employers think in a different paradigm by embracing hourly, monthly an even flexible payment scenarios.” 

2. As you age, utilize the resources available to maintain a high quality of life. 

  • With the rapid advancements in technology, we can expect that new and emerging products will make daily life much more accommodating for the aging. Robert Karnick of ROBRADY Designs clued us in on what we can expect. “With home heath care, we will see a convergence of medical devices and consumer products.” The takeaway here is that it will become increasingly easier for individuals to take responsibility of their health with the introduction of new technology. We were particularly interested in his mention of consumer products that would assist in monitoring the health and wellness of the elderly-transforming the role of the caretaker. “These technologies would give you peace of mind as we care for aging parents.”
  • Take advantage of programming that will keep you engaged, social and involved. Erin McLeod of The Friendship Centers touched on the importance of caring for seniors on both ends of the socioeconomic spectrum. “The Rubin Center for Healthy Aging serves low income seniors over the age of 50. Serving them are retired doctors and health care professionals. In the parking lot is everything from bicycles to Lexuses.” Erin also introduced us to a new word, “workateering” – she has met many senior volunteers throughout the years with storied careers that need an outlet. They are committed to keeping themselves sharp and active by working or volunteering in their field for a small amount of pay.

3. Have a plan.

  • Though it may be uncomfortable, make your wishes known. It is never too early. All too often, surviving family members spend the time immediately following the death of a loved one engaged in a legal battle over assets. “Get your plans done so that the legacy you leave is not that your kids don’t speak to each other” says Kelly Caldwell.
  • Communicate” says Aubrey Lynch. Surviving spouses are left in a precarious situation and can feel helpless. Sometimes it is an uncomfortable situation to have, but it is important to think about.”

4. Get ready, we’re about to be front and center. 

  • It is no secret that we live in the midst of an aging population. According to Erin McLeod, 40% of our local population is over the age of 60. And since the entire population of the US is aging, all eyes will be on our area to see care for and accommodate a large elderly population. Her advice, “start cultivating best practices now. We have 125,000 seniors in our community and only 5,000 nursing home beds.” Tim Hearon of Boomerswork acknowledges the situation ahead of us when it comes to the way we are preparing for high amounts of caregiving, “We should be the flagship for the whole country.”
Members of the audience listen to the panel discussion.

Members of the audience listen to the panel discussion. Photo Credit: Evan Sigmund

The bottom line is that there are an incredible amount of resources in our community for the elderly and aging to get involved, to work, to volunteer and to effectively plan for the road ahead.

Special thanks to CS&L CPAs for sponsoring this event and recognizing the importance of this topic in our community. To view photos of the event, click here.