During a standing ovation highlighted by popping flash bulbs, Bob Enright, CFP, received a lifetime achievement award in recognition of his 19 years of volunteering at The Janet Pomeroy Center, a pioneering San Francisco-based organization that helps developmentally disabled individuals. Enright, who spent the last three years as chairman of its board of directors, describes his experience there as a “19-year labor of love.”
In 1989, when Enright co-founded the Burton-Enright Group with partner Peter Burton, part of their mission was to make themselves “visible” in their community by lending a helping hand. In 2006 Burton went with fellow parishioners to help rebuild a church in the Eastern European nation of Bulgaria. In addition to remaining active with his church, he’s also a youth baseball coach.
“When we arrived in Bulgaria to help restore a church that had fallen into disrepair during some 50 years of communist rule, the looks on the people’s faces were unforgettable,” Burton recalls. “It truly changed my life.”
But aside from the undoubtedly rewarding feeling that comes from knowing you’ve helped those less fortunate, can community service actually grow your practice? While the answer according to the senior advisors interviewed here is a resounding “Yes,” each of them also agrees the payoff that comes from such involvement goes far beyond a boost to one’s bottom line. Will your practice grow as a result of making the right community connections? Can you help yourself while helping others?
“There’s something very good about working to help others,” says Bradford Pine, an advisor with New York-based Cantella & Co., Inc., and who’s also a metro-area volunteer for Ronald McDonald House Charities, Inc., which creates and supports programs to improve the health and well-being of children. “I do not get business from my McDonald House efforts,” Pine says. “That’s not why I do it. While volunteering is rewarding, volunteering for a reward is the completely wrong reason to become involved.”
In addition to helping to raise funds, Pine’s group also organized a visit by area children to a nearby Ronald McDonald House to see the organization’s activities up close and to visit with the kids staying at the facility. “It was a good experience for all of the parties involved; for our kids as well as those at the Ronald McDonald House.”
Richard Pombo, CRC, an adviser in Latham, N.Y. went with his church in April to help construct buildings in a remote section of the Congo. Pombo, who’s also twice visited the Ukraine to help restore a church and other buildings and traveled to Louisiana with Habitat for Humanity after Hurricane Katrina, says doing good to grow business has “never crossed my mind.” He does admit that it can help, however. “When people learn of my experiences they realize where my heart is,” Pombo says. “When you try to give back it makes a statement about the kind of person you are.”
Mark Snyder, ChFC, CSA, of Medford, N.Y., worked on the local level with Boy Scouts of America for over 20 years, an area college for 10 years and, most recently, for a local theater group. He started volunteering with the Boy Scouts when his son joined and stayed with the program, working up the organization as a volunteer in his home region. In recognition of his service he was awarded the Silver Beaver — the highest volunteer award. At the college, he’s served as treasurer, vice president and president of its alumni association.
“I primarily became involved to help the organizations,” Snyder says. “Being involved may bring in business but being involved just for business will not. I’ve gotten clients through my volunteer work but the main reason is for the good feeling that comes from helping the organizations.”