By Alicia Hoisington
James Martin Associates knows that giving is all about community. That’s why it brings its clients, partners and employees into the mix.
“Most of the relationships that we’ve developed and continue on a regular basis have been driven by a connection with a team member or connection with one of our long-term customers,” says company President Jim Martin. “We’ve also been connected with charities based on business partners, suppliers or subcontractors. That’s been the foundation for some longer-term relationships.”
Every year, the Vernon Hills, IL-based snow and landscape management company holds its Partner Appreciation Event, where it brings together all of its vendor partners for a barbecue party in the spirit of giving.
“We invite partners, and we sell tickets and do a drawing at the event. Whoever gets their ticket picked, they choose the charity that the funding for that event goes to,” Martin says.
Partner party: James Martin Associates brings its partners together for a day of fun, appreciation and charitable giving.
This year’s event raised $5,166 for Side Street Studio Arts in Elgin, IL. Side Street Studio Arts provides educational and creative resources and an accessible space run by artists. Side Street’s mission is to support the artist and artistic journey through collaboration.
Martin says the Partner Appreciation Event shows a mutual “sharing of good fortune” for all involved, adding that it’s fun to see all the different charities supported by the cumulative businesses in attendance. There is a sign-in board at the event where attendees can list their favorite charity.
“Most people there are representatives of their companies, but the lottery is their personal connection,” Martin says.
But, most importantly, he says it’s a way for individuals to come together to make an impact in a big way.
“Everyone has a favorite charity that they believe serves a great mission, and it’s a chance to make a significant impact,” he says. “Most of us individually can’t make that sort of donation. There’s a joy in the potential of a significant contribution to a cause they have deep commitment to. There’s a degree of fun to it, and it becomes the focus of the event.” Creating meaning
The appreciation event isn’t the only way James Martin Associates gets its clients and partners involved. Instead of sending clients holiday gifts, the company makes donations in clients’ names to their favorite charitable organizations.
“It creates a deeper, more meaningful relationship with clients,” Martin says. The same goes for employee contributions, as the company often makes donations to associates’ favorite charities, which creates a lasting connection between the two parties.
“We have had a few employees go back to the school they went to and give scholarships in our name. That creates deep meaning,” Martin says. “In the snow business you really do go to battle, and the team and camaraderie is a deep thing. When you can create support for outside interests, it builds greater commitment.”
According to Martin, the company supports about 15 charities on an annual basis.
Although the biggest support comes in the form of financial assistance, the company also provides landscaping and care and maintenance of facilities to some of the charities it supports. In one case, it also provides snow services.
Additionally, James Martin Associates donates 10 to 15 “potting parties” per year. The company hosts these events at its facilities, where attendees are taught how to correctly and creatively plant in a potted container.
“Some of these are bought at silent auction, so we make donations for people to buy the parties,” Martin says. “We have some parties that are purchased for as much as $2,500.”
Garden party: The company donates “potting parties” to organizations, who raffle off the prizes to raise money for their charities.
Martin says he’s unlikely to stop giving back anytime soon.
“I don’t know if I’m a little weird, but I find the gift of giving to be greater than the gift of receiving,” he says. “It’s more fun to give than to receive, especially if there’s a type of meaningful connection.”
If other companies don’t know where to start when it comes to community service initiatives, Martin suggests simply asking what organizations team members or clients support.
“You will be inundated and surprised” at how much is out there, he says.