Supporting United Way of Central Alabama is in his DNA, according to Jeff Stone, executive vice president with Birmingham-based Brasfield & Gorrie. That is why it’s no surprise he’s leading the organization’s 2019 campaign with a passion for the community and years of giving and volunteer experience.
40 Years of Giving
Stone began giving to United Way 40 years ago when he started working for Brasfield & Gorrie. He and his wife Linda have been members of United Way’s Tocqueville Society since 2008 and together made a significant gift toward United Way’s endowment. Over the years, his giving turned into volunteer leadership roles including service as chairman of the Tocqueville Society (United Way’s major giving society), during which he added more than 100 new members in a single year. It’s an accomplishment that’s become legendary.
Sweat Equity-A Physical Presence
Moreover, the relationship between Brasfield & Gorrie and United Way goes way beyond fundraising.
“As a company, we adopt an agency each year,” said Stone. “We mobilize our construction capabilities for some kind of improvement for that particular United Way agency.”
One such project included rebuilding the first floor and playground at the YWCA, sprucing up the YWCA’s My Sister’s Closet building, including painting a mural on the side of the building on 3rd Avenue North.
“While we are raising money, we want to put a face on the work United Way does, added Stone. “Last year, we worked with One Place in a joint project with the Junior League. This year, we are working with Girls Inc. That physical touch is important.”
Fun and Games – The Giving Cup
And it is not just hammering nails and painting walls – the employees at Brasfield & Gorrie have fun while they are bringing attention to the United Way Campaign. In the past, staff have held go-cart races at a nearby empty lot, with race teams representing United Way agencies, much like their own mini-Talladega 500.
There have even been video production contests, a talent show, and lip-sync battles.
The entire company divides into teams to compete for the “Giving Cup” – the honor given to the team that scores the most points by securing new donors, raising money and winning the community competitions.
Moving the needle
Stone is passionate about improving the lives of Alabama citizens and sees the United Way as a leader in helping guide people out of poverty.
“Alabama is the 6th poorest state in the nation, and 18% of our citizens live in poverty,” Stone said. “I’m passionate about working to move the needle in this area and improve the lives of Alabama citizens. With its emphasis on promoting health, education, and financial stability in the greater Birmingham area, the United Way of Central Alabama is a leader in the challenge to help our community out of poverty. Focusing on these areas is not only socially responsible, but it is sound from an economic development perspective as well.”
Lifting People Up
As a prominent corporate leader in Birmingham, Stone is mindful of United Way’s impact on the community.
“We are lifting people up.”
“For the business community, there is an economic development play to this (the campaign) too. What we are really doing is making an investment into the health of our community.”
“Donors recognize that the United Way is in a fairly unique position to mobilize the community around addressing these challenges. The United Way serves as a catalyst for collective community impact by coordinating the activities of its partner agencies and direct services with the resources of business, the public sector, and other community non-profits. These donors also appreciate that our local United Way is both effective and efficient in fulfilling its mission.”
That confidence was confirmed this spring when the United Way of Central Alabama was awarded Charity Navigator’s highest rating for the 17th year in a row, Stone added.
Join the United Way Campaign
His challenge to the business community is to create a culture of philanthropy.
Join Jeff Stone, Brasfield & Gorrie and its employees and support the 2019 United Way of Central Alabama Campaign. Contact John Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, visit their website at www.uwca.org.