Case Study: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's Granite Day Corporate Partnership
The biggest difference maker in securing successful corporate support is finding the proper match in values between the company and the nonprofit, and nothing can bring two entities together more effectively than personal experience. That’s what made Boston-based Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) and telecommunications solutions provider Granite Telecommunications such a perfect match.
In 2006, Rob Hale Sr., father of Quincy, Mass.-based Granite Telecommunications founder and CEO Rob Hale Jr. and chairman of the company, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Soon after, he became a patient at DFCI, which is missioned to provide expert, compassionate care to those with cancer while advancing the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, cure and prevention of cancer and related diseases. And while Hale Sr. ultimately passed away from the disease, the Hale family could not have been more grateful for the care DFCI provided its loved one.
To show their appreciation, the Hales made a gift to DFCI in 2007, says Suzanne Fountain, director of the Jimmy Fund and DFCI. And the following year, Granite Telecommunications decided to team with DFCI for an event called Granite Day, a carnival-type fundraiser to raise money and awareness for the research and treatment of pancreatic cancer.
“In this case, Mr. Hale was a patient here, and grateful patients and their families want to give back,” Fountain says. “From there, they oftentimes ask what their company or employer can do, what their family can do. That’s what happened here. Granite Day became a way for the Hale family to recognize and memorialize their father.”
A culture of philanthropy
Beyond the personal experience the Hales had with DFCI, the philanthropic culture ingrained in Hale Jr. plays a huge role in Granite’s desire to help the community.
“Our CEO is a philanthropist at heart,” says Rand Currier, chief operating officer at Granite Telecommunications. “Rob Hale is very actively involved in the company, and it’s easy to help those who help us. Dana-Farber clearly helped the Hales. So it starts at the top … and people want to work at a place that gives back.”
Philanthropy is so much a part of the fabric of the company that Granite has a group called Granite Cares, a team of employees and volunteers who steer the charitable efforts of the company. Granite employees suggest ideas for different charities to support, and the Granite Cares committee of about 30 employees goes through the list every week and chooses a charity to support. The causes can range from something like supporting a local little league team to donating to organizations like DFCI and Boston Children’s Hospital.
“It starts from the top down. As Rob Hale Jr. has said, his dad was the most important person in his life, and it means a lot for him to support DFCI,” Fountain says.
Each year since 2008, Granite Telecommunications has run the Granite Day event for DFCI, with its own committee working on the event. Granite really takes ownership of Granite Day to honor Hale Sr. It is the one big charitable event Granite does each year — complete with a huge carnival, invitations to community members and advertisements in local newspapers. And it’s all free for people to attend — free food, free rides — though attendees are asked to contribute money, as well as other corporate partners, with all proceeds going to DFCI for pancreatic cancer research and care.
That dedication has led to the event growing more and more each year. In fact, in 2013, Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch declared June 8 — the day of the event — as Granite Day in the city. And in 2013 alone, Granite Day raised $450,000 for DFCI.
“We look at all corporate partnerships, and so many start with a personal commitment from an individual,” Fountain says. “That’s what happened with Granite, and the employees, the Quincy community are so dedicated to coming together to honor Rob Hale Sr., have a fun day and raise a lot of money for pancreatic cancer. They’re doing something wonderful.
“Getting the whole company involved is key. When it’s ingrained in the culture of a company, it doesn’t matter who comes in, the company stays committed because it’s so much a part of the culture,” she adds. “It’s a great feeling to find that type of partnership. We’re so fortunate that Granite Telecommunications is so dedicated to DFCI. We never take any of that for granted. We’re so grateful, and we work really hard to show our appreciation to steward people and hope they come back to support us.”