Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, wrote that whenever he looks at making an investment, the first thing he thinks about is whether or not the idea will have a positive impact upon the world. The entrepreneur encourages business owners to put people and the planet alongside profit, allowing private companies to become a driving force behind social, environmental and economic benefit.
We spoke with Creative Marketing Concepts CEO Zachary Tyler and Bryan McCormick, a corporate communications specialist with A Brand Company (which, prior to its merger last year with BrandAlliance, operated two organizations — Activate! Promotions + Marketing and Grapevine Designs — under its parent umbrella), about why their corporations focus on philanthropy despite a decidedly get-ahead corporate climate.
Marque Asks – An interview with Zachary Tyler and Bryan McCormick
What considerations did you take into account when you first established your charitable plans?
Tyler: For years I’d wanted to connect Creative Marketing Concepts with a well-matched
charity, but I wanted to ensure that I first had full faith in the use of funds and their direct impact on their recipients. I knew I’d found the right cause when CMC’s longest-serving employee, Jocelyn Dizon, returned from a visit to the Philippines with pictures showing some of the volunteer work she and members of her church completed to benefit orphans and adults with muscular dystrophy.
Not only was this charity, Bahay San Jose, a worthy cause, it also turned out to be an entirely trustworthy administrator of our company donations.
In April 2016, I and members of our team got to go to the Philippines to visit our “angels,” as they’re called by the overseer of the house, Lourdes Brual. It was one of most special experiences of my career, and we were certain to document our visit along the way.
Bryan, your company’s collaboration with World Vision ended up being mutually beneficial.
McCormick: For Activate! Promotions + Marketing, our initial goal with the global humanitarian organization World Vision was to drive contributions that directly and positively affected education in the United States. For example, in 2013, we raised more than $50,000 in donations and, with the help of our suppliers, we hosted a year-end book-bag-kitting party, providing hundreds of students with the necessary supplies to kick off the school year. This effort is complemented by other annual projects, which include winter coat and can drives and the donation of other goods and services.
We allow our relationships to build business, and we are now the promotional marketing provider for World Vision. We never set out for that outcome; we just wanted a philanthropic vehicle through which to raise funds and awareness. World Vision was so impressed with our approach that when they were looking for a promotional partner, they didn’t have to look far.
In addition to financial contributions, your group also discovered a hands-on way to make a significant local impact.
McCormick: Yes. In addition to participating with national and local charities like Pennies for Pink, the Make-a-Wish Foundation, the Red Bag Project and Head for the Cure, Grapevine Designs developed a program called 100 Jobs for 100 Moms. The goal of that initiative is to provide mothers with 20- to 40-hour positions that offer on-the-job mentoring, ongoing case management, access to funds to eliminate educational and employment barriers, and cash incentives for job success. The program focuses on a dual approach that is key to educating these mothers while lifting them out of poverty.
What’s ahead for your respective companies?
Tyler: Over the years, CMC has made many in-kind donations to causes near and dear to us as well to charities of our employees’ choosing. We feel that it’s important that we strive to be a positive force in the world, and one that’s ever appreciative of our many privileges.
McCormick: We’ve completed a merger with BrandAlliance, a Canadian-based promotional company that has gone to great lengths to put philanthropy at the core of its culture. We are more successful as a business when we put others’ needs first, whether it’s a client or the community. More importantly, the others-first sentiment resonates with employees, leadership, clients, vendors and customers alike. It’s infectious.