One Degree Capital is a small business lender in Occoquan, Virginia, making loans from $10,000 to $200,000 to new and established local businesses. CEO Rod Loges also writes a weekly business column for a local newspaper in which he recently told the story of a moving experience he had with his young school-age daughter. He saw that she was making multiple lunches every morning. When he asked why, she told him that a classmate’s mom was so seriously ill that she couldn’t even make school lunches for her own children.
This got Loges thinking about how the business community could help nonprofit organizations and foundations that serve and support patients with various diseases, disabilities and other challenges. After reaching out to local leaders of various area nonprofits, he recognized the value in the assistance they provide – often helping the very same people who could be his own clients or his client’s customers.
He decided that encouraging workplace giving would be a fitting expression of how he wanted to interact with his community. The idea was to contribute a certain amount of One Degree Capital’s annual profits to charitable causes, and he initially thought he’d select from organizations that had approached him for event sponsorship or ones he was already familiar with. But being a very employee-oriented CEO, he first solicited ideas from his team on the local nonprofits they believed were making a serious difference.
The first employee to offer a suggestion was Caitlin Hughes, a survivor of a potentially deadly disease called aplastic anemia. “It would mean a lot to me if we would support the Aplastic Anemia and MDS International Foundation,” said Hughes. “They bring awareness and education to local communities regarding bone marrow failure diseases, and donations also help support continued research to improve treatments and find cures. AAMDSIF really helped me through a tough time in my life”
While CEO Loges initiated the employee involvement in One Degree Capital’s charitable giving, he also believes that employees everywhere have the ability to at least start a conversation with management – perhaps by suggesting a small and specific option for charitable giving – to see how well their idea is accepted.
“If employees and management have a shared understanding of what success means to them, it’s even easier to start internally developing the concept of workplace charitable giving,” said Loges.