Edrington Continues Giving Back by ‘Giving More’

10/26/2018

 

Marc Bromfeld’s desk is littered with letters. A mix of charitable proposals, submission replies and thank you cards from the Covenant House, Ray Pfeifer Foundation, Jazz Foundation of America and Jewish Family Services among others.

“In this business you’re either revenue or expense, and I’m worse, I actually get to give money away,” said Bromfeld.

As Edrington’s Director of Corporate Affairs and Social Responsibility, it is Bromfeld’s mission is to ensure that the company continues to deliver on its core value: giving more.

 

Giving More: A Part of the DNA

Edrington’s ownership model is unique in the beverage industry. The company is owned by The Robertson Trust, which was established in 1961 by the three Robertson sisters who donated their shares in the family business to ensure it remained independent and would continue supporting charities in need. Since its founding, The Robertson Trust has donated $325.2 million to a variety of charitable causes in its homeland of Scotland.

To date, it is the largest independent grant-making body in the country.

 

Giving More to Employees

 

While The Robertson Trust handles Edrington’s charitable efforts in Scotland, it is up to Bromfeld to coordinate and drive the company’s U.S. efforts. For him, that begins with giving more to Edrington employees and the causes they care about the most.

For starters, each Edrington employee is given three days of PTO (Paid Time Off) to use when volunteer opportunities arise. Not bad, but it gets better.

In addition to the PTO, Edrington will also double-match its employees for any amount of money they raise for a charity they care about.

The important distinction here is that it is money that employees raise, not money that they donate,” Bromfeld said. “We want our employees to have some skin in the game. If this is something that is important to them and they want to raise money for it, then we will support them with a double-match.”

The causes that employees have chosen to raise funds for and the way they do so run the gamut, be it hosting a Friendsgiving party and simply putting out a donation jar to running a race with the aim of raising funds for a cause.

“The hardest part for employees is finding their why,” Bromfeld said. “Everybody has their why. It might not be on the surface. Sometimes something sad or scary happens to give them their why.”

This was true for Edrington’s Mark Zander, who in 2016 suffered an Ischemic Stroke while playing rugby for the Chicago Blue Rugby Club. As a part of his recovery, Mark entered Presence Resurrection’s Medical Center’s new Art Therapy program for stoke survivors. The Art Therapy was created through partnerships with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Adler University. The program had been funded by the donation of a family who lost their husband/father to stroke, however, the funding was about to run out.

Zander saw an opportunity to give back to the program that gave him back his life. As soon as he was healthy enough to run, Zander signed up for the Ditka Dash 5k with the goal of raising $5,000 for the program. Zander ended up raising $9,725, an amount that was then double-matched by Edrington, resulting in a total donation of $29,175.

I tell a lot of our younger employees that they can go elsewhere to get more money, but this a fantastic company to work for, and you’re going to do great things here,” Bromfeld said.

 

Giving More to the Community

Edrington’s Giving More efforts aren’t limited to single employee initiatives. As empowering and motivating as those can be, Bromfeld believes that when Edington’s employees come together as a team, that’s when an even bigger impact can be made.

A recent example of this happened last summer when 27 Edrington employees took part in a three-day, 550km bike ride to support the Covenant House, an organization that provides shelter and serves homeless teens and young adults.

Online, the team raised $45,715, which was double-matched by Edrington and led to a donation of $137,000 for the Covenant House.

We like to give money to organizations that service an entire community, not just one particular group of people,” Bromfeld said. “Covenant House has shelters and support centers in 31 cities across North America. We’re hoping that our donation can lead to a real change in these kids’ lives.”

Sometimes, however, it isn’t about the monetary donation at all. One of Bromfield’s favorite stories to tell is about how Edrington’s Vice President of the South, Tom Stein, fell in love with a children’s book.

As the story goes, Tom was on vacation with his family and saw a children’s picture book, All the Way to the Ocean. The book tells the story about a girl who gets her whole community to pick up garbage and clean up the beach after discovering that all the town’s trash eventually went into the ocean.

Tom fell in love with the message of that book. He reached out to an organization called Clean Ocean Action and brought the book to their attention. Now, thanks to their help, the book is read at all the public schools in New Jersey down by the shore.

Edrington employees go down throughout the year and read the book to children,” added Bromfeld. “I’ve been there when we’re reading this book at the schools. Kids would make posters in advance of us coming. They’re all excited about it. To us, that’s making a difference.”

 

Giving More to the Industry

At the 2018 edition of Tales of the Cocktail, Edrington partnered with Green Dot, an organization whose mission statement is to reduce interpersonal violence through community awareness, and arm people with tactics to spot and intervene in violent situations. Together, they held seminars to train servers and other industry employees on how to recognize violence in the workplace and how to handle a situation to ensure it doesn’t escalate.

Edrington also partnered with Breakthru Beverage’s own Beverage Development Specialist, Michael Page, to raise more than $56,000 for KIPP New Orleans Charter Schools at TOTC Pig and Punch event.

 

Giving More through its Brands

Edrington’s Giving More efforts exist not just at the corporate level, but also in its brands as well. Learn more below about how three Edrington brands are making a difference in the lives of others.

Brugal

In 1991, Brugal Rum created the Brugal Foundation, an organization that supports development and reduces poverty in its home country of the Dominican Republic. To achieve their goals, the foundation focuses its efforts on promoting, enabling and supporting quality education. Through the Brugal Educational Fund, the Foundation invests in scholarships for talented students who face financial hardship.

“Putting those kids in a position where they can be educated is phenomenal,” Bromfeld said. “If you can help a child at that elementary age, it can carry on throughout their life. You can change a whole family, and for a generation the poverty stops. It is amazing. Truly amazing.”

 
Partida

For the second year in a row, Tequila Partida has teamed up with The Susan G. Komen Foundation and The National Breast Cancer Foundation to raise funds in support of the fight against breast cancer. Throughout the month of October, Edrington will double-match every donation made through its page on the site, with the goal of raising $133,000. That is in addition to the brand donating 25 percent of its September and October profits to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

 
Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard Vodka is the creation of Stephen Sparrow, an entrepreneur and philanthropist who has the gift of gab and a heart so big it can barely be contained by his coat.

12 years ago, Sparrow set out to create a product and brand with the potential to save the snow leopard and improve the livelihoods of the herder families who call the area home. Snow Leopard Vodka was the result, a spelt grain Vodka handcrafted in Poland, with 15 percent of all profits from the brand donated to the Snow Leopard Trust, an international charity recognized as the top snow leopard conservation charity in the world.

“What appealed to me about snow leopard conservation was the way you help the snow leopards survive in the wild is by helping local people,” Sparrow said. “And if you really simplify it, it is by helping women and children. In return for the Snow Leopard Trust helping these families be more prosperous, the women would agree to influence the rest of the community, so no snow leopards were killed on their patch.”

 

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