Giving vs. Doing: Aspiriant Does Both During Day of Giving

Picking corn, stuffing backpacks and cleaning beaches — These were just some of the ways Aspiriant’s 160 employees gave with their hands and time across the nation as part of the company’s Day of Giving.

As a leading wealth management firm, Aspiriant is dedicated to helping others achieve more. We do this every day as we guide individuals and families through their finances.

Giving back is also important to us as a company. And as we do for our clients, we strive to maximize the value of our philanthropy by giving our employees the opportunity to volunteer. While writing a check to a charity is always greatly appreciated by the organization, donating time is rewarding not only for the charity, but for our employees as well. The activity is usually educational and fun, employees have a chance to bond with co-workers while doing something positive, and the effort can inspire further volunteerism that continues to support the community.

“We owe so much of our success to the communities in which we work and live,” Aspiriant Chief Operating Officer Michael Kossman explains. “Our employees and our clients are part of the fabric of these communities, and volunteering is a way we can return some of that success to those who help us achieve it.”

Fun-raising

Aspiriant’s Day of Giving actually spanned several days in August as employees in eight cities spent the workday volunteering for community organizations. Here’s a rundown of their experiences:

Los Angeles — Heal the Bay

The Los Angeles office spent the day at the beach picking up trash and cigarette butts to help Heal the Bay. Aspiriant also provided a large monetary donation to support the organization’s mission to keep the Greater Los Angeles watersheds clean and safe. After the clean-up, the 37 employees enjoyed lunch at the Santa Monica Aquarium where they learned more about aquatic life. The Los Angeles office chose this organization on the recommendation of IT Specialist Nelson Arias, whose family volunteered there before and enjoyed it. And the philanthropic spirit was evidently contagious.

“I’ve previously volunteered for Heal the Bay, and yesterday re-energized my focus on the importance of their mission,” said Gary Morse, investment operations assistant. “I plan to give more time cleaning the beach in the future.”

San Francisco — San Francisco Education Fund

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More than 400 students started off the school year ready for success with new backpacks stuffed with school supplies. The San Francisco office team spent the day in the bright, historic Sunshine Building, home of the San Francisco Education Fund, assembling the backpacks and writing notes of encouragement to the students of El Dorado and George Washington Carver elementary schools. They also assembled bags of colored pens for teachers.

“I visited the schools after the event to drop off the backpacks, and the conversations I had with the school principals were enthusiastic and confirmed the backpacks would get put to good use this year,” said Administrative Assistant Jen Peters.

San Diego — TERI Inc.

TERI Inc. provides programs and housing for children and adults with developmental and learning disabilities. The Marshall House, situated on a sprawling hillside in Vista, Calif., is one of 12 adult residential communities and has a special connection with some clients in the area. Ten employees from our office in Solana Beach were inspired to support this organization’s mission by getting their hands dirty working in a sustainable garden that provides fresh food to the residents and local chefs. They also refreshed the front courtyard landscaping. The work included a bunch of planting, weeding, pruning, mulching, hauling, irrigating and removing dying citrus trees. The garden manager greatly appreciated the help and noted that the 12 cubic feet of mulch we redistributed that day would have taken them over two weeks to do on their own. The team also brought and ate lunch with the residents and volunteers of the home.

“A handful of the residents pitched in and worked incredibly hard. They didn’t even want to take a break when we did,” said Myles Rush, a wealth manager. “It was fun to all work together.”

Milwaukee — Hunger Task Force

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The Milwaukee office is mighty, with the 11-person team harvesting nearly 3,200 pounds of corn to feed families. This is the second time Aspiriant has volunteered for the Hunger Task Force, Wisconsin’s leading anti-hunger organization. Hunger Task Force operates a 200-acre farm that supplies food to its soup kitchens, homeless shelters and food banks. In 2014, Aspiriant picked cabbage, peppers and cucumbers. In addition to spending the day at the farm, Aspiriant surprised the organization with a donation toward the new Visitor Center that’s under construction.

“Sometimes you give money to an organization, and they all need it, but you don’t always know what it’s used for,” Investment Advisory Manager David Muchow said. “To actually see what the monetary contribution will support is rewarding.”

Cincinnati — Jewish Family Service Food Pantry

Aspiriant was the first company to ever stock shelves for the Jewish Family Food Pantry. Eighteen employees from the Cincinnati office also participated in a small activity to understand how those who come to the pantry go about planning their meals with the food they receive each week. And they learned about the variety of families the organization serves, which goes beyond the Jewish community. The pantry will also be able to double the value of a donation from Aspiriant by buying food through a program that works with a local grocery store.

Food pantry and volunteer manager Sandee Golden was “overwhelmed and extremely grateful” for our help and donation, said Administrative Assistant Megan Olding. “She said she’s now going to reach out to other companies to see if they are interested in learning about them as well.”

Minneapolis — Let’s Go Fishing

The employees in our Minneapolis office went fishing — with people who may not often get a chance to enjoy outdoor adventures. They volunteered for Let’s Go Fishing of Eden Prairie, Minn., a non-profit that brings nature’s healing powers to seniors, veterans and the disabled through fishing and boating. The team spent a couple of hours on Lake Riley helping participants cast and reel in fish. They also prepped the boat and fishing gear and cleaned up afterward.

“They seemed to have a lot of fun. They were pretty excited when we caught something,” Administrative Assistant Taylor Augustin said of the group they fished with. “We probably caught anywhere from 60 to 70 fish total.”

New York/Boston — Gibney Dance

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The New York and Boston offices joined forces to support Gibney Dance’s mission to prevent interpersonal violence and empower survivors through dance, movement and the cultural arts. Aspiriant employees painted stage risers and spray-painted the organization’s logo on dozens of chairs. They also got a chance to do some stretches and exercises to loosen up and get into the spirit of what Gibney Dance does for the community.

John Collins, director of investment advisory in Boston, enjoyed spending time with his New York colleagues helping such an important organization. “I feel fortunate we’re in a position to give back that way,” he said.

The greater return

Aspiriant donated a total $35,000 in cash to these organizations. While the money will go a long way to help them provide vital services to our communities, the hundreds of hours we cumulatively volunteered benefits us all and will help these groups to do even more.

As Michael Kossman said, “The organizations at which we donate our time are truly inspirational, and we hope that our day of giving makes a difference in their success.”

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