The Business Dividends of Giving

February 28, 2020

Since Chairman Bob Coughlin founded Paycor in 1990 with three employees, giving back to the community has been part of their corporate culture, starting with an early Adopt-A-Class partnership with Oyler Elementary School.

As the company grew to multiple cities and 2,000 employees, Coughlin recognized the need to maximize the impact of his employees’ enthusiasm for giving and volunteering to benefit both their goals and their communities’ needs.

“We’ve promoted employee volunteerism,” Coughlin said. “I’ve always thought that culturally our company is about helping others, and what we do is very much tied to the fact that we’re a service organization at heart. I also have a personal mission statement around helping others.”

That personal mission statement led Coughlin to create a donor advised fund with Greater Cincinnati Foundation in 2001 to leverage his annual gift of closely held company stock, fulfilling his philanthropic goals in a way that also addressed tax obligations incurred as a result of Paycor’s rapid growth. In turn, that trusted relationship helped spark Paycor’s Community Impact Fund to fuel their Community Partners Program in 2018.

“GCF has been a great partner,” Coughlin said. “You have the risk, when you try to do this on your own, that you don’t have the best practices, and GCF provides a scaffolding to the process of charitable decision making. They know what’s the best way because they do it every day. For our employees, it also creates an additional integrity that their money is going into a nonprofit fund that is separate from Paycor.”

After providing $50,000 to seed the fund, Coughlin stepped back to let the employees run with it. “It’s a very grassroots effort. We wanted to empower our people to decide on the causes that they wanted to give to and participate in,” he explained.

By recognizing Paycor employees’ varied interests, from medical causes and animal welfare to supporting the arts and social welfare organizations, the program provides a sense of ownership to its participants. They propose recipient causes and vote for their favorites after a committee reviews requests from applicant organizations. “When you give people the ability, and maybe just a little bit of encouragement, it just takes off,” Coughlin added.

It’s a system that encourages both particular passions and group impact. “Part of my pitch to our employees is that we have the power of numbers. With 1,000 employees in Cincinnati, if everybody gives $50, we raise $50,000. This fund lets us give more than we could by constantly cobbling together separate giving opportunities. It gives us an organized, budgeted way to accomplish more.”

Coughlin sees the benefit of such hands-on altruism that impacts organizations that employees are involved with in their communities. “I’d rather feel and know the impact (of my giving), and I don’t think I’m so different. If you feel good about it, you’re going to give more.”

The Paycor Community Partners Program has gained some national recognition, and is currently a finalist for the Engage for Good 2020 Halo Awards.

GCF offers a flexible range of options for company and employee-based funds, backed by experience, personal service and deep community connections to drive impact. Contact GCF Chief Philanthropy Officer Phillip Lanham at 513-768-6155 or Phillip.Lanham@gcfdn.org to explore these opportunities to benefit your business, your employees and your community.