Over the course of the past year, PLANADVISER’s Advisers Giving Back profile series has featured a wide variety of advisory firms engaged in many types of charitable and philanthropic activities.
Some of the firms, given their smaller footprints, are engaged in locally focused activities, for example teaching girls and young women in New York City about business and personal finance. Others, given their national presence, provide financial and volunteer support for many causes across the United States.
As part of one of the largest retirement plan focused advisory firms in the U.S., the CAPTRUST Community Foundation (CCF) falls in the latter camp.
“Plain and simple, we want to enrich the lives of all children,” says Tiffany Larew, employee relations manager and the 2020 president of the CCF board of directors.
Over the 13 years it’s been in existence, the CCF has given away over a million dollars with that goal in mind. In some cases, it gives small grants directly to vetted charities, and in others, it provides larger grants and partners with charities to help them achieve “more than just money would provide.” Some recent recipients of support (both volunteer hours and monetary donations) include the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara, TeamSmile, Kidznotes and the CORRAL Riding Academy.
Noble Purpose, Sophisticated Operation
Larew is acting as the organization’s board president in 2020 after having served on the CCF finance committee and as board treasurer. In taking on the role, she has worked closely with Devyn Duex, the 2019 CCF board president and an adviser in the firm’s Santa Barbara, California, office.
As Larew and Duex explain, the CAPTRUST Community Foundation has been so successful first and foremost because of enthusiastic support coming from the executive leadership, as well as from the firm’s advisers and support staff. But the CCF also continues to benefit from the efforts of its present and previous board leaders, who have made significant progress in institutionalizing and scaling the firm’s charitable efforts.
In its current form, the CCF is managed by its board of directors and five subcommittees, and its fundraising is conducted primarily through employee payroll deductions. Community fundraising also plays a part.
“It’s very gratifying to be able to give back to our communities at a regional and national level,” Larew says. “We have board members in Texas, Iowa, Ohio and other places—and we’re all working together towards the mission of helping children in our communities. It’s so important to the culture of our company. In early 2020, we already have done several projects. One was a ‘Fun Run’ event that raised $33,000 so far. Those are the sorts of events that build employee loyalty and a sense of community.”
To foster employee participation beyond the payroll deduction donations, CAPTRUST grants employees 16 hours of volunteer time as a voluntary benefit. A lot of people choose to use this time for CCF-sponsored events, but they can also spend their time supporting outside events.
Duex recalls that one primary goal in 2019 for the CCF board was to work on several “operational sustainability and efficiency projects.”
“As the foundation continues to grow, including several new initiatives we have set to launch in 2020, our focus sharpened to ensure the foundation is set up structurally to handle the increased workflows,” Duex explains. “One of the areas [where] we saw opportunity was within accounting and finance, as well as in the grants processes. We also hired a bookkeeper to tackle day-to-day tasks and shifted oversight to the chair/treasurer, strengthening the ability for the foundation to ensure we meet our fiscal responsibilities.”
In addition to the partnership, crisis and small grants given out by the CCF, 2020 will see the launch of a new “project grant” program. Ideas for charities to support with these grants and associated staff volunteer hours will primarily be sourced from internal proposals. CAPTRUST employees will be able to file applications explaining their proposed project, how many CAPTRUST volunteers are needed, the requested grant amount, etc.
“In 2020, we are also launching an online grants portal to increase efficiency for applicants and reviewers while increasing the operational functionality through automated workflow processes, reporting, data review and archiving,” Duex says.
Duex and Larew note that every CAPTRUST Community Foundation representative or board member is a volunteer. As a 501(c)(3) entity, the foundation must comply with numerous regulatory requirements—including submitting annual reports to federal and state agencies for compliance. And when it approves a grant, each organization’s request goes through a vetting process beforehand to ensure that the organization is in good standing and that the CCF feels confident the money will directly impact children as much as possible.
Supporting Young Hearts and Minds
Larew says her experience working with the CCF has been personally enriching, adding that many of her colleagues feel the same way. She echoes the comments made by other advisory firms engaged in charitable and philanthropic work, suggesting these efforts generate great employee loyalty along with good will from local communities.
“Working with Kidznotes in 2018 was really interesting and rewarding,” Larew recalls. “They are a local music education group here in Durham, North Carolina, focusing on bringing music education to kids who would not otherwise get that opportunity. We have donated instruments and funds, and the kids have come here and played concerts as part of our year-end celebration. It was so special to see their talent and to be a part of that. In fact, one of the kids from our community went on to be a contestant on ‘America’s Got Talent.’”
Larew also points to the partnership with CORRAL Riding Academy as personally fulfilling for herself and other CAPTRUST staffers.
“The Riding Academy provides equine therapy for girls in need,” she explains. “In working with the academy, we got to do a team building lesson out there, and we actually learned a lot ourselves, as adults, about what the girls being helped there have gone through. It was an incredible opportunity to be able to experience that.”
Another experience that comes to mind for Larew is working with the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Barbara, California, following the recent fires and mudslides.
“Some of the Santa Barbara community is very affluent, but other areas are facing real economic hardship,” she explains. “Less affluent places really suffered from the flooding and mudslides that happened in the region. Our support for this organization allowed kids to go to summer camps when they didn’t have anywhere else to go.”