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Time, Talent, & Treasure: Conversations with a Corporate Philanthropy Thought Leader

[Author’s Note]: This past weekend I had the opportunity to personally experience the Buckingham Foundation impact. While touring apartments with my daughter for her first lease, we visited a Buckingham Company community. While my daughter was completing the paperwork, I asked the Leasing Agent if she participated in the giving back and philanthropy with the foundation. She immediately answered “YES”, and began to relay all of the wonderful things that they do (most of which are mentioned below in this post). However, she got teary-eyed when sharing that Buckingham Foundation helped by keeping a YMCA daycare open during the pandemic to help the community. What a wonderful experience to hear this firsthand from a Buckingham Company employee!

Our team recently chatted with Theresa Rhodes, the Executive Director at Buckingham Foundation. We were able to capture some of the highlights of her 10 ½ year tenure at Buckingham Foundation, in which Theresa helps coordinate all things philanthropy for Buckingham — from their corporate foundation to their employee volunteering program, and even their matching donations!

Through Theresa’s background at Buckingham Companies, we’ll take a look at key steps in starting a Corporate Giving and Volunteering program, and how to successfully engage employees.

  • Gaining Leadership Support
  • Starting Small
  • Creating At Least One Nonprofit Relationship
  • Enjoying What You’re Doing

Leadership Support

Buckingham’s 3 T’s: Time Talent & Treasure

A really important step in creating a Giving and Volunteering program is gaining leadership support. Theresa and her colleagues at Buckingham Companies embraced the 3 T’s as part of their program: Time, Talent & Treasure.  Each of these are so helpful when thinking about philanthropy and community involvement.

A second step is making it very easy for employees to get involved. During orientation, employees learn about Buckingham Foundation’s community impact and are invited to make a pledge for at least one of Time, Talent & Treasure.  With a simple question, managers and HR leaders can help guide the employee from day 1!

Time means employee volunteering in the community. This includes Theresa and her team setting up quarterly group volunteer events for employees, as well as providing employees with an additional 12 hours of Volunteer Time Off (VTO), every year.  Talent means the skills & expertise that employees bring to the table.  Examples of talent are mentoring students with their specific skill-set or using their hands-on skills at the company’s annual Habitat for Humanity Build.  Last in the three is Treasure which means monetary donations. Examples of treasure include donations to nonprofits throughout the year, or even making donations through the Give Five program coordinated by Buckingham Foundation.

These 3 T’s are a huge differentiator for their organization, as potential employees, prospective residents, investors, and business partners see everything that they are doing in the community.  “You never know how important philanthropy is to someone making a decision on where to live or who they want to do business with”.


Starting Small Goes a Long Way!

Buckingham’s Give Five Campaign

For successful employee engagement, sometimes the best way to start is to start simple and simply start. Theresa recalls a conversation with a colleague who wanted to contribute but felt that $5/paycheck wasn’t very impactful.  She assured him that it was hugely impactful, and asked him to imagine if every employee donated $5/paycheck what that would translate to; especially with Brad & Carol Chambers personally matching 100% of EVERY employee’s gift annually!

Thus began their Give Five Campaign, a way for employees to get involved & engaged in supporting Buckingham Foundation, with the goal of every employee participating.


Creating Relationships with Nonprofits

Pandemic Pivot

A third step is developing relationships with local nonprofits and keeping up with community initiatives. In Buckingham’s case, they were able to really help the pandemic!

According to Rhodes, being able to make quick assessments, being flexible, entrepreneurial, and relying on trust-based philanthropy and relationships with nonprofits like Gleaners & Second Helpings helped move the needle during the early months of COVID-19.  Knowing that food security was a critical issue, and increased support for neighbors in need was crucial, Buckingham was motivated to act quickly and creatively.

By partnering with the Alexander Hotel in Indianapolis and the Kimpton Aertson Hotel in Nashville, Buckingham Foundation grants allowed for satellite locations to be set up in the hotel kitchens that weren’t being utilized.  Partnering with Second Helpings and the Nashville Food Project, team members prepared and delivered more than 15,000 meals in the two cities.

Additionally, with hotel rooms not being booked, Buckingham Foundation partnered with The Alexander and Kimpton Aertson hotels and paid for 1,000 room nights April-June 2020 for medical and frontline workers in Indianapolis & Nashville.  This ensured that these healthcare heroes didn’t have to worry about carrying something home and infecting their loved ones, while also offering them a soothing environment to rest and recuperate.


You’ve got to be very agile, not bogged down in minutia; our mantra was let’s make it happen” stated Rhodes.


One of Theresa’s Favorite Philanthropy Examples.

Philanthropy is embedded into everything that we do and woven into our culture at Buckingham Companies”- says Rhodes.  While she’s proud of all of the work the Foundation has done, she specifically mentioned the Buckingham Food Pantry at George Buck Elementary as one of her favorite projects.

Grants to Gleaners Food Bank help fill the pantry, and they provide food not only to the students and their families but also to the surrounding neighborhood.  Students recognize the Buckingham volunteers on days they stock the pantry and have shared sentiments like “I love when you’re here, that means we get to take food home”.   Comments like this really drive home the impact and importance of what Buckingham is doing to help others, in both small and large ways.

On Selflessly:  “No matter where a company is along that philanthropy spectrum, they can work with Selflessly; you make it seamless with your one-stop-shop approach”.  With your vast array of skill sets and services that you bring to the table, Selflessly can really help companies to step up their community involvement.  Sometimes all it takes is that initial spark; Selflessly can serve as the philanthropic partner to companies.


Anything we can do to make it easier for companies to get more involved, engaged, and give back to the community, whatever that looks like for them, is a wonderful thing!”


Engage your Employees with Selflessly

Doing good doesn’t have to be hard. With Selflessly’s unique platform, building a socially conscious brand that allows your employees to donate their time and money to causes they care about is easy. Our platform allows your employees to donate to more than 1.7 million charities and non-profits and makes it easy for your company to institute a matching program. In addition to this, the Selflessly platform gives companies access to reporting tools to understand how their company is giving and allows you to export these results at tax time or when it comes time to create an annual giving report. If you’re ready to build a purpose-driven brand that will excite your customers and your employees, contact us today.




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