One great way to get connected and strengthen your business brand is to become involved with a local charity or non-profit organization.
With so many worthy causes to choose from, you should be able to find a way to help your community and expose your brand to a new audience through at least one philanthropic outlet.
Once involved, the focus of business connections can often take a back seat when your own goal becomes aligned with that of the organization and its mission to help those in critical health and financial situations.
Fundraising and social events allow for great opportunities to develop new relationships. One of many national non-profit organizations is JDRF, or Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
JDRF is a leader in setting the agenda for diabetes research worldwide, and is the largest charitable funder and advocate of type 1 research. The mission of JDRF is to find a cure for diabetes and its complications through the support of research.
Type 1 diabetes is a disease which strikes children and adults suddenly and requires multiple injections of insulin daily or a continuous infusion of insulin through a pump.
Insulin, however, is not a cure for diabetes, nor does it prevent its eventual and devastating complications which may include kidney failure, blindness, heart disease, stroke, and amputation.
The Piedmont Triad Chapter was founded in 1994 after Leslie Anne Hummel rode her bicycle across the country and raised over $65,000 for diabetes research in honor of her sister, Elizabeth.
The chapter’s first events were Walks to Cure Diabetes held in Winston-Salem and Greensboro in 1995. These two events raised $282,000 and set a national record for first-year walks. Since 1995, walks have been added in High Point and Burlington/Alamance County. These four annual walks now raise over $1 million each year for important diabetes research.
I asked Michael Conrad who is the executive director for JDRF’s Piedmont Triad Chapter to tell me about the organization, how many local companies are currently involved and why he thinks local businesses select JDRF as a charity worth supporting, whether they know of a family member with type 1 diabetes or not.
JDRF: As 20% of a typical employee base has someone in their immediate family that has diabetes, the majority have this direct connection and become involved to support the mission to find a cure for them or their loved ones.
Also, I think many companies believe in the mission and are impressed with the progress being made to find a cure for diabetes and its complications.
In less than ten years, the life expectancy for a person with type 1 diabetes has declined from 15 years to 7 to 10 years.
From 5 clinical trials in 2005 to over 50 in 2010, JDRF demonstrates to our supporters the progress being made to find a cure. Companies invest in JDRF believing its mission is obtainable and want to be part of the cure.
Gillean Smith: Non-profits are so dependent on volunteers. With so many worthy causes why do you see that JDRF is really the charity that companies should contact to get involved?
JDRF: There are many reasons companies get involved with JDRF. First of all, it is an extremely efficient organization in that over 80 cents of our expenditures goes to support research to find a cure for diabetes and its complications.
Companies are also interested in the progress being made to find a cure for diabetes. In 2005 JDRF has 5 Clinical Trials and today over 50.
This demonstrates real progress being made with the research reaches the clinical trial stage. Also, with the health cost associated with diabetes $174 billion annually and growing, companies see their healthcare cost rising.
Finding a cure for diabetes would reduce health costs potentially making them more competitive in the marketplace as typically 20% of a company’s employees have someone in their immediate family that has diabetes.
Finally, I think companies believe the mission is obtainable and with the progress being made toward a cure they are investing their dollars wisely.
Gillean Smith: How many Triad businesses are actively involved with the local JDRF chapter?
JDRF: We have over 100 companies involved with the Piedmont Triad Chapter.
Gillean Smith: With so many companies involved, what business leader has been an inspiration to you in the way that they have been involved with the local JDRF?
JDRF: The Fresh Market has been an incredible supporter of JDRF since the Piedmont Triad Chapter was founded in 1995. The Berry family and their employees have embraced the organization not only provide support on a local basis but in the over 100 stores that are in operation throughout the country.
In addition to their wonderful support of local events, ie gala and walks, they have “Sidewalk Sales” in the fall at all their stores. They also provide the opportunity for other chapters within JDRF to have Wine Galas in their store.
To date almost $2 million has been contributed to JDRF from these events. Another leader that inspires me is Roy Carroll. If his companies support of our Greensboro Walk and support of the gala weren’t enough, Roy wanted to do more to help find a cure for his daughter.
He began a project called “Building an End to Diabetes.” Roy and his subcontractors build a house donating all of their time and material. The end result is whatever the house sells for is their donation to JDRF.
To date four homes have been built and sold with over $600,000 being donated to JDRF. The passion of the volunteers involved in our organization is incredible and Roy Carroll is truly one of those passionate volunteers.
Gillean Smith: How can business owners/leaders become involved with the local chapter and in what ways?
JDRF: There are many ways to become involved in the activities of the Piedmont Triad Chapter. The fundraising events are our four Walks to Cure Diabetes in Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Burlington and High Point.
Corporate Walk Teams are raising important dollars for diabetes research, having doing it and getting great exercise as well. Another event is our Hope Gala held in February each year.
Patrons are treated to an unbelievable evening including a live and silent auction, dining and entertainment. Approximately 750 to 850 patrons attend each year raising more than $750,000 for diabetes research.
Other events are our Golf Tournament in May of each year and the Ride to Cure Diabetes for the cyclists.
We also have a Family Retreat in January which provides outstanding educational information, networking, etc for both the children and adults who attend.
We look to our corporate partners to help underwrite this event. Finally, there are volunteer opportunities for our events and to help out in the office.
Contact information: Mike Conrad, 312 N. Eugene Street, Suite D, Greensboro, NC 27401
Email address: email@example.com.
Website: Piedmont Triad JDRF Chapter