Sometimes those creating change and advancing awareness aren’t on the front lines, silently strategizing behind the scenes to bring important social issues to the surface. One such example is Drake & Company, an association management firm focused on helping non-profits and foundations gain market attention and achieve their objectives. They do this through linking non-profits with for-profit companies who can help them garner mainstream exposure and donations, cause marketing campaigns, fundraising activities, and ongoing stewardship of their core mission. And they boast an impressive roster of clients who entrust them with upholding the pillars of their organization, and for whom they’ve been able to generate significant results. In addition, founder Steve Drake recognizes that his company’s success is the direct result of their success, so he also feeds a percentage of his profits back into the associations, on top of other things such as volunteer efforts and food programs. With a watchful eye on his clients — and the world — Steve has created a circle of care that keeps consciousness at the forefront and causes thriving.
1. How do you define for-profit philanthropy?
Doing good (and getting caught) is the simplest definition. I was taught to “pay it forward” because “we all drink water from wells others have dug.” So, I have been an active volunteer throughout my life, and have served as President of three national non-profits. Now, I own an association management company that offers full-service management to non-profit societies, trade associations, and foundations, giving me an opportunity to help those organizations grow significantly and meet their missions.
2. Please describe your philanthropic business plan and your current charitable activities.
Demonstrate our expertise and commitment to what we do, and in the associations and foundations that we manage. As a company, we donate 10% of gross revenue to growing the non-profits we manage and/or assist charitable causes. In 2009, we are focused on helping Thirst Relieve International and Inspiring Alliance as well as our charitable clients (American Academy on Communication in Healthcare, Christmas SPIRIT Foundation, and Alpha Zeta Foundation). In 2008, we provided a free gas/lunch program for the unemployed who are members of Businesspersons Between Jobs (BBJ) and spent a half-day helping at Christmas at the Centenary Cares kitchen.
Some of our clients have implemented mission-driven charitable activities. The Alpha Zeta Foundation supports servant leadership and work trips for college students enrolled in colleges of agriculture and natural resources. The American Academy on Communications in Healthcare focuses on improving communications between patients and health care professionals. And, the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation implements programs designed to enhance the spirit of Christmas for kids, families, and the environment.
3. How do you communicate the impact of these efforts to your customers?
As a professional services firm, we communicate directly with our client leaders, we post notices on our website and blogs and we occasionally send news releases. Some of the programs we implement on behalf of our clients offer opportunity for major public awareness. For example, the Trees for Troops program of the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation (with support of FedEx Freight) engages 70% of the industry and generates large amounts of media coverage. In fact, more than 23 million U.S. households reported seeing, hearing or reading about Trees for Troops in the 2009 Harris consumer tracking poll.
4. Why do you think it’s important for companies to adopt philanthropy as part of their revenue model?
Simply because it is the right thing to do. And, because doing the right thing is often rewarded. In addition, our clients have mission obligations and charitable purposes that must be met. And, as a for-profit company, we are able to help them meet or exceed those purposes.
5. What would you say is the most critical element in successfully implementing philanthropic endeavors?
Finding the right fit (philosophical and cultural) between our company, our clients, and the programs we implement for our clients. Finding partners to work with our non-profit clients to help increase their mission-driven work. And focus… I tend to want to try “everything” and, fortunately, have great staff willing to tell me I’m crazy and to either back off or modify the ideas to make them work.
Name: Steve Drake
Company: Drake & Company
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @SteveDrake