On Monday, August 25, Lee Kimball Kitchens, Boston, was MIA. Aberjona Kitchen Center, a sister company, was out of action as well. If you'd called either office that day, you'd have gotten the message that everyone was out golfing.
Was this a fun outing to raise morale? Yes. But it was also more than that.
Both companies are owned by Bruce and Gregg Johnson. When their mother, Susan, died in 1999, Bruce, Gregg, and sister Laurel were faced with caring for their father, David, who'd been diagnosed with progressive dementia. For the first two months, the three dedicated much of their time to caring for David while he remained in his home. It wore them out. That led the siblings to Sanborn Home Care, a local non-profit that would house and partially care for their father while they and their families provided some of the care.
End of story? No. Having experienced the nightmare of trying to care for a family member with Alzheimer's, both Bruce and Gregg became caught up in the vision of helping those overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for Alzheimer's and dementia patients.
Bruce became a member of Sanborn's board of directors. In addition, the Johnson brothers established a non-profit foundation in their father's name and organized an annual golf tournament to benefit Sanborn Home Care and The Alzheimer's Association. This past August 25th was the third tournament. It was expected to clear more than $14,000 in contributions.
How would you or I transform an interest into a major charitable outreach? Here's what Bruce Johnson recommends:
1. Find a cause you're passionate about. Prepare to commit substantial time and some financial backing, especially when first getting started.
2. Define your mission and key values. For the Johnsons it was "To promote awareness and support for individuals and families affected by Alzheimer's disease and other progressive dementia."
3. Obtain your non-profit status. The Johnsons had an experienced accountant who did much of the legwork.
4. Decide how you want to raise money. Gregg and Bruce felt the golf tournament would deliver fun and funds and fit their potential contributor constituency. However, they may add or change their approach in the future. Bruce recommends focusing on one type of fundraising until you master it.
5. Develop a database of contacts. The Johnsons included their business contacts, personal friends, and friends and associates of their parents. Sanborn Home Care added their database. Another remodeling company, Jack's Custom Woodworking, was also willing to share contacts. The database totals almost 500 names, enough to sell out their first tournament.
6. Set up a governing committee. The Johnsons have 12 volunteers on theirs. The committee spreads the work and adds contacts and brainpower to the events.
7. Be prepared for company involvement and expense. The Johnsons absorb many costs as well as staff time to make the foundation a success. They recommend appointing a willing employee to be the point person for communication and organization. Their company absorbs the cost of work done during working hours at the company and now pay a fee for that person to attend committee meetings.
If you have a cause you want to help, get involved. Or you can help Bruce and Gregg Johnson's foundation with funds, participation in their next golf tourney, or contributions of items for prizes. The foundation Web site is www.dkjfoundation.org or call Bruce at (617) 227-0250.
--Linda Case, CRA, is founder of Remodelers Advantage Inc. in Fulton, Md., a company providing business solutions through a network of experts and peers. (301) 490-5620; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.remodelersadvantage.com.