In 2010, Dale Gillmore, had a for-profit business but wasn’t seeing the community impact where he was donating and desired to be more vested in social programs helping children. Corporations often have entire departments for social responsibility initiatives, but Gillmore experienced little tangible tie to the projects in which his small business was investing. Thus, he started Make an Impact Foundation (MAIF) as a grant program to promote the education and well-being of children, so he could directly invest in the lives of children in the Charlotte region. MAIF identifies children in severe need (homeless, impoverished, etc.) as well as those with learning or emotional needs, disabilities, diseases or chronic illness and creates opportunities to produce change in their lives.
As the needs increased and more projects were being funded, Founder and MAIF President, Dale Gillmore, saw the space for MAIF to do more of the heavy-lifting for planning and executing volunteer service events in tandem with small businesses or nonprofits. With this new program, the My Corporate Impact Fund, employees could volunteer or donate to a cause of their choice with minimal time or planning from the businesses’ staff.
“With our My Corporate Impact Fund program, we primarily focus on becoming a philanthropy arm for local businesses,” Director of Impact Operations, Deborah McKee, told me. “We find out what [a company’s or individual’s] passions are and set up a fund where employees and the business can donate and then develop projects to serve underprivileged children. We work with Human Resource and Marketing departments to plan and help implement social impact projects through our My Corporate Impact Program as a great employee engagement benefit. The business and employees can give back but not have to do the planning work.”
A teammate and pilot at one of MAIF’s My Corporate partners, Quest, a Business Advisory & Succession Planning firm, wanted to educate children about aviation. So MAIF helped him raise support and awareness to fund Drones 2 Jets - a community project that introduces aviation to children and allows Quest employees to invest their expertise, time and money in training a future generation of aviation specialists.
This turn-key approach to service and philanthropy helps with communication, navigation of service planning and empowers employees to give back to those around them or even their native countries.
Another Quest teammate, originally born in Jamaica, realized the women’s soccer experience is much more developed, so he started a cultural, soccer exchange where US girls soccer players travel to Jamaica to assist in a skills camp and enhance their cultural and worldly experience. Then, the Jamaican soccer players travel to America, giving young middle school girls the opportunity to have a cultural experience and enhance their soccer skills. This chance of a lifetime allows Jamaican soccer players to experience US culture while partnering with US underprivileged soccer players to get in front of college scouts, increasing their likelihood of playing at the collegiate level.
MAIF also works with communities. In 2019, a My Corporate Impact partner of MAIF, Artisan Signs & Graphics, brought a community-based project idea to Make an Impact Foundation - bringing to their attention that there were 350 families in less than a mile radius in Huntington Green, a mobile home park in Huntersville, without a safe place to play. Most of the families had only one car and a parent working until after dark, so they also had limited transportation to travel to find play spaces. Thus, Make an Impact Foundation provided the planning and execution to make this happen. Local donations and support from Clean Juice, the Joey Logano Foundation, Huntersville Police Department, Peninsula Community Foundation, a few churches, etc., built this playground and united this community by creating a common area for families to gather and children to play.
Through MAIF’s My Corporate Impact partnership, Clean Juice designed a national initiative that allows customers to donate with any purchase to the Quarters 4 Kids program. As a growing business, Clean Juice did not have the staff time to coordinate community projects they support with the quarters given all across the country. Therefore, they work with MAIF to find and vet projects they can help directly support. This ensures Clean Juice is giving their customers and employees a chance for direct investment in social change. Their employees not only see where the Quarters 4 Kids donations go, but in 2020 they actually helped build the Huntington Green park complete with an updated basketball court, soccer field and playground that Quarters 4 Kids donations supported because MAIF finds that if you’re volunteering, you have a vested interest in where your money goes.
“We are not about just writing checks. We are invested in helping others make the change and want to partner with groups across Charlotte to do so,” McKee explained.
If your organization is interested in giving back to the community but does not have the time to coordinate a passion project, the first step is reaching out to MAIF to ask for their help, so you can help others and see the impact you can have on the community.
Learn about more local nonprofits who serve and support individuals facing chronic disease, as well as their families, here.