Lewis Kweit (top row, 4th from left) with fundraising team, Team Kweit at the 2019 New York Lymphoma Walk. Kweit provides legal pro bono services to LRF through his law Akin Gump Struss Hauer & Feld
Corporate social responsibility is a cornerstone of many companies and has become an increasingly important business practice. Being a socially responsible company helps businesses “do good” while building credibility among its customers and employees. While many companies rely on monetary donations to give back to causes, some businesses find it more impactful to make in-kind contributions — donations of goods, services or time.
In 2019, corporations donated over $20 billion to nonprofit organizations
According to Double the Donation, corporate philanthropy increased by more than 15 percent between 2013 and 2017 and is estimated to continue growing. In fact, in 2019, corporations donated over $20 billion to nonprofit organizations. Many organizations, such as the Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF), have long-standing partnerships with businesses that support LRF’s mission by giving back through goods and services. This allows organizations to free up time and money towards serving their communities.
J Squared Press Inc., a commercial printing company based in the New York City area, has been a longtime supporter of LRF and many other non-profits. J Squared Press’s owner and president, Eric Mendelson, has been in the printing business for over 36 years after acquiring the company from his uncle. Mendelson takes great pride in his work and his ability to use his company to support causes that are important to him, sharing, “my company’s commitment to supporting our nonprofit clients is what sets us apart in the printing industry.”
J Squared Press’s partnership with LRF stems from a very personal connection that Mendelson has to lymphoma. His youngest son, Jordan, was diagnosed with diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) at the age of 23. Overwhelmed like many parents of cancer patients, Mendelson searched for support and found the LRF Helpline. Shortly after, he introduced LRF to his printing company. “After speaking with the staff at LRF, I fell in love with their kindness and warmth,” says Mendelson. “It became more like family.”
“When I was on the phone and needed help, the Lymphoma Research Foundation helped me through tears and rough days. Now we have the opportunity to help other people like LRF helped us.” – Eric Mendelson, J Squared Press
When J Squared Press began its partnership with LRF, Mendelson came up with an idea that would help him give more than high-quality printing services. In addition to keeping the cost of his printing services low, he donates a portion of the cost of each printing project back to LRF. Through this business model, J Squared Press has donated over $6,450 to support the lymphoma community since 2017. “As long as I can do what I am doing and maintain a relationship — I don’t need to get rich on this work, it’s time to give back,” he says. “Continuing to give LRF my support makes me happy.”
From left: Eric Mendelson with son Josh, wife Debbi and son Jordan at the 2019 New York Lymphoma Walk
Mendelson and his family not only give back through business, but also through various personal capacities as well. In 2019, the Mendelson family raised hundreds of dollars for the New York Lymphoma Walk, and his son Jordan helps to raise awareness through his participation as an LRF Ambassador. “When I was on the phone and needed help, the Lymphoma Research Foundation helped me through tears and the rough days,” says Mendelson. “Now we have the opportunity to help other people like LRF helped us.” Mendelson says that he sees his company’s partnership with LRF as a lifelong one.
*Eric Mendelson of J Squared Press has pledged to donate a portion of the proceeds of any new business that results from this article to the Lymphoma Research Foundation.
LAWYERS FOR LYMPHOMA
Pro bono work is conducted by many law firms in order to provide a service to their community that would otherwise not be available due to limited resources. In fact, the American Bar Association requires attorneys to complete 50 hours of pro bono work each year. Akin Gump Struss Hauer and Feld (Akin Gump) is a law firm that goes above and beyond the national requirement.
Akin Gump is the largest lobbying law firm in the United States, with over a thousand attorneys across the globe. The firm’s attorneys have devoted more than 100 pro bono hours to clients per year and have received countless awards for pro bono work — LRF being among the many nonprofits that the firm supports.
A 20-year-partner of Akin Gump, Lewis Kweit connected LRF to the firm due to a personal connection to lymphoma. Kweit’s wife, Karen, was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma when she was 20 years old. As a result of her journey with lymphoma, she wanted to help others who have been diagnosed.
“I felt that because LRF is solely focused on lymphoma and I was impressed with their research, I wanted to get involved with the organization.” – Lewis Kweit, Esq., Akin Gump Struss Hauer & Feld
When she passed in 2017 due to a heart attack, Kweit decided to continue her legacy and began supporting a nonprofit focusing on lymphoma. “Upon her passing, I picked up the torch and that was my connection,” he says. While in search of an organization, he came across LRF. “I felt that because LRF is solely focused on lymphoma and I was impressed with their research, I wanted to get involved with the organization,” Kweit says.
Through Kweit’s support, his firm has given LRF access to a team of lawyers who specialize in contract law, including intellectual property specialists, to assist LRF with its research grant contract process. “Through my law firm, we have resources that could be very helpful to LRF and I thought it was a great way to support the organization outside of raising money or writing checks,” he says.
Many of the services that Akin Gump provides for LRF include reviewing and updating research contracts and ensuring that the Foundation is updated on new state laws and/or institutional policies that require attention, an important factor as LRF funds research across the country.
Kweit also supports LRF beyond his pro bono work with his law firm. Since 2017, Kweit’s fundraising team at the Team LRF New York Lymphoma Walk has raised nearly $60,000 and is one of the top fundraising teams at the Walk. He brings this culture of giving back in his office by encouraging his colleagues to donate to the organization, and a few of them even joined his team to walk. Kweit’s efforts to raise funds in his late wife’s memory will leave a lasting legacy.
BENEFICENCE THROUGH BEVERAGES
In-kind donations are not limited to reduced pricing or the provision of free services; they can also take on the form of donated goods. Many companies like Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits (SGWS) use this model of philanthropy. SGWS is the largest wine and spirits distributor in the United States and Canada. SGWS Executive Vice President of Commercial Operations Kevin Fennessey made the connection between LRF and SGWS in 2013 in an effort to support LRF’s mission. Fennessey was looking for an opportunity to give back after his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. “We know there is no direct correlation between her cancer and lymphoma, however, we saw that there was a real need for support in this particular type of cancer,” says Fennessey.
Kevin Fennessey (middle) with Charlie Madden (left) and Mike Evans of Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits
In 2013, he secured SGWS’ support as the Founding Sponsor of LRF’s signature fundraising series, Swirl: A Wine Tasting Event. The event, held in six cities throughout the country, provides an opportunity for attendees to enjoy a collection of rare and highly sought-after wines and spirits provided by SGWS. While their main contribution to Swirl is the in-kind donation of beverages, Fennessey, who is also a member of the LRF Board of Directors, emphasized that when it comes to this event, SGWS is “all hands on deck.” With the help of SGWS, the Swirl series has raised over $1.2 million to support the LRF mission.
“The Swirl series is a perfect event for SGWS to support as it educates attendees about the great wines SGWS distributes while, of course, raising money and awareness for LRF,” says Fennessey. “SGWS is always looking for ways to develop the series and bring it to other cities.” Fennessey’s passion for giving back has always been supported by SGWS, as the company encourages its employees to support causes that are important to them. Through a program called Voluncheers, SGWS strives to support local and regional organizations across North America by devoting time and resources to those who need them most. “Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits supports many businesses and encourages their employees to do the same. They really are a company that strives to be the fabric of the community,” he says.
Companies like Akin Gump Struss Hauer & Feld, J Squared Press, and Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits have made it their mission to make a difference. Whether it is integrating philanthropic culture into the workplace like SGWS or donating vital services like Akin Gump and J Squared Press, businesses are giving back, improving the state of the world, and presenting the courage necessary to achieve a shared goal. The Lymphoma Research Foundation is grateful for the philanthropic partnerships of Eric Mendelson, Lewis Kweit, Kevin Fennessey, and other partners for their critical support of LRF’s mission to eradicate lymphoma and serve those touched by this disease.
If you or your business would like to learn more about partnership opportunities, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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