When Anthony Berg launched PayLessNow.com last December, he felt that making a charitable contribution from every sale was an important component of his business model. PayLessNow.com, an online coupon website that offers big savings from more than 365 merchants, boasts more than 180,000 subscribers in Chicago and other upcoming markets.
So he decided to give 10 percent of all company profits to charity. What’s more, he allowed his retail customers–which include dining, entertainment, sports, beauty, automotive and travel — to decide how to spend the philanthropic dollars.
“Merchant response has been very positive,” said Berg. “They like that they get to choose where the money goes.”
Berg’s generosity has roots in his arrival to the United States. When he and his family emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1989, North Shore Congregation Israel in Glencoe helped the family settle in West Rogers Park by assisting them with jobs and helping send Berg to Jewish summer camp.
“Because of what was done for my family when we first arrived,” Berg explained, “I understand the Jewish values of tzedakah and want to uphold this tradition.”
In addition, Berg’s company also recently unveiled a new venture called “Biggie Saver,” which allows national charities to sell a national discount card, similar to the Entertainment Book. The card offers 500,000 deep discounts in 12 categories at retailers like Target and Walgreen’s. For each book sold, 40 percent is returned to charities like Operation S.M.I.L.E., an organization that aids childr
en born with facial deformities.
Team Giving in Tandem
Bruce Leon, owner of three Oak Brook-based companies, has created a culture of philanthropy that encourages employees to contribute their time as well as financial resources. He matches employee donations, gives paid time-off for volunteer efforts and donates to charities where employees volunteer.
Last winter, Leon’s companies—Tandem HR, Benefits Solutions Group and Alliance Workplace Solutions—sponsored a coat drive for the Chicago Chesed Fund, a Chicago-based charity that (among other activities) operates a clothing distribution center in Lincolnwood. His 65 employees were grouped into teams of five to collect coats. The winner, of course, was the Chesed Fund, the recipient of more than 550 adult and children’s coats. Participants earned gift cards and top collectors received a paid day- off for their efforts.
“We partner with exceptional workplaces and want to motivate other small business owners and their employees to get involved with community outreach,” Leon said. “We are currently looking to broaden our philanthropic programs by spearheading a community-wide charity event this year.”
Driving Home the Right Message
Organizations scouting out a venue to hold their fundraiser need look no further than Grossinger Auto Group, near North and Clybourn Avenues in Chicago.
Since last year, Grossinger’s 400,000-foot showroom has opened its doors to numerous charity events, free of charge. “We also help the organization with procuring food, entertainment, and other vendors,” said Ron Stone, business development manager for Grossinger.
Upcoming events include a 400-person gala for Project Ladybug, a group that provides funds to children fighting cancer and other childhood illnesses, and a May fundraiser for Generation Rescue, an autism research organization founded by actress Jenny McCarthy. (Grossinger also welcomed Jewish B2B Networking, the parent organization of Jewish Business News for a networking event.)
“We move the cars back and there’s a huge place for people to mingle and network,” Stone explained. “We’ve been doing two events a month now, but are committed to accommodating even more charity partners. We do whatever it takes to help organizations raise funds for their organizations.”