Nonprofit notes: Giving is great business | Column

By Kirk Roberts and Mauri Ingram
Courtesy to The Bellingham Business Journal

You’ve heard the phrase: “Business is business.” True, it’s certainly possible to turn a profit by simply manufacturing a product or delivering a service without regard for much beyond the basics.

Great business is more.

The standouts, the accomplished business leaders that we aspire to emulate, understand that it takes more than mere transactions to reach a company’s potential.

They know that attracting and retaining quality staff who are personally and professionally invested in the business is vital to their financial success as well as to keeping the road ahead smooth and clear.

What does all this have to do with philanthropy? Everything.

Two local businesses are being honored for their giving at the 2013 National Philanthropy Day Awards in Seattle on Nov. 14: RAM Construction and Phillips 66. The Association for Fundraising Professionals’ annual Philanthropy Day celebrates individuals and organizations in Washington state that give in many ways to make our communities and the world a better place.

“There are not too many community needs that get met without the hands, hammer or gentle encouragement of Mike Hammes and his team at RAM Construction,” noted Sue Sharpe, executive director of the St. Luke’s Foundation.

“Mike, his wife Wendy, and the business are generous with all their resources whether it is working with the local Rotary Clubs to build a new food bank or school restrooms in Guatemala.”

“RAM is committed to making things better at all levels: personal, professional and community. Mike and RAM Construction set a high bar for giving.”

Phillips 66 is a large corporation with operations all across the nation and beyond. Whatcom County is one dot on an expansive corporate map. From here, it certainly doesn’t feel that way.

The personal investment of staff at every level of the business is impressive. Phillips matches employee volunteer hours with grants to local organizations. The company helped to build a new Ferndale Boys & Girls Club and the new Ferndale Library is about to break ground thanks to their generosity.

That’s dedication to this place and to community.

RAM and Phillips 66 are outstanding examples of how business leadership, fundraising and good old fashioned elbow grease improve our community for everyone, including their employees.

At the Whatcom Community Foundation, we’re in the philanthropy business. One of our strategic goals is to help local nonprofits do what they do best.

We offer educational opportunities and share best practices, as well as make grants.

Our focus on a strong nonprofit sector is the reason we are proud to have the Whatcom Council of Nonprofits as one of our programs.

The council strengthens local organizations by building relationships, sharing resources, providing free trainings and communicating the vital role of these organizations in our community.

Recently, Alcoa Intalco Works (a 2011 Philanthropy Day honoree) and the Whatcom Educational Credit Union invested in the council’s work.

The council’s popular newsletter, which is sponsored by Alcoa, brings information about training events, sector trends and employment opportunities to more than 2,000 local nonprofit staff and volunteers.

WECU is the 2013 sponsor of the council’s free monthly brown-bag lunch discussions on topics such as fundraising, cloud computing and board development.

So far this year, more than 150 people have exchanged information and ideas with their peers.

RAM Construction, Philips 66, Alcoa and WECU’s leadership in philanthropy and investments in the nonprofit sector is an impressive glimpse into the many ways that business and nonprofit partnerships build vibrant communities.

It’s just great business.

Kirk Roberts is chair of the Whatcom Council of Nonprofits’ Steering Committee. Mauri Ingram is president and CEO of the Whatcom Community Foundation.

This is the first installment of a recurring series of columns from the Whatcom Council of Nonprofits that will be featured in The Bellingham Business Journal and on

Tags: ,

Related Stories