Driven to give back
Proceeds from the Portland International Auto Show support a wide variety of area nonprofits
Many companies are changing the way they give to charities, and new car dealers in the Portland area are no exception.
Over the past three years, the dealers who organize the annual Portland International Auto Show have set a goal of using it to generate $1 million a year in donations to local charities. This year's show, which is scheduled for Jan. 26-29 at the Oregon Convention Center, is no exception.
The biggest piece of the fundraising effort is a Sneak Peek Charity Party, which is held before the show even opens and is designed to benefit specific charities. The first three raised $1.25 million; the next one is scheduled for Jan. 25, the day before the 2017 Portland International Auto Show begins at the Oregon Convention Center, and it aims to raise another $500,000 for seven local charities.
In addition, profits from the four-day show will be given to the 10 auto dealers who sit on the board of directors of the Portland Metro New Car Dealers Association, which presents the show. Each will have the opportunity to contribute their shares to charities of their choosing. Last year, that amounted to a $110,000 donation.
Although the association has long donated to charitable causes, the new system is much more strategic and beneficial than in the past, says MPNCDA Executive Vice President Greg Remensperger.
"In the past, we would be inundated with year-round requests as well as wanting to help with emergency needs like Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy and the tsunami in Japan. Sometimes, we found ourselves being more responsive to requests based on timing rather than need," Remensperger says.
According to Remensperger, the occasionally reactive nature of the giving prompted three board members — current MPNCDA President and Herzog-Meier Auto Center owner Chris Meier, Immediate MPNCDA Past President Bob Lanphere Jr. and Wilsonville Toyota owner Dave Jachter — to advocate for a much more proactive approach that prioritized regional needs. Their efforts led the association to set the $1 million fundraising goal and create the preview party to achieve it.
"We see the Sneak Peek Charity Preview Party as a win-win-win for those who attend. It's a great event, they get to tour the auto show before it opens, and they know they're helping local charities," Remensperger says.
The MPNCDA underwrites the entire party, so all of the proceeds are donated to the charities. This year, the party will also include a raffle to give away a new Audi A4 donated by Audi Beaverton. Entry to the raffle is included in the $100 cost of a party ticket — $90 of which is tax-deductible.
Such strategic thinking is happening at many companies that give to charities, according to a panel on corporate giving sponsored by the Portland Business Alliance on Dec. 14. Panelist Keith Thomajan, president and CEO of United Way of the Columbia-Pacific, said more and more companies are rethinking their traditional practices for several reasons.
For one thing, requests for contributions increased so much during and after the Great Recession that many companies decided they needed to establish new standards to screen them. Research and discussions prompted a lot of them to conclude that local charities improve their communities, both helping people and giving the companies a competitive advantage, a recent concept called "context-focused giving."
"If your community thrives, your businesses thrive," said another panelist, Michelle Weisenbach, market president and commercial banking leader for Key Bank.
This year's charities
The seven charities which will benefit from the Sneak Peak Preview Party at the 2017 Portland International Auto Show are:
Brian Grant Foundation ( www.briangrant.org ): Fromer Portland Trail Blazer Brian Grant was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson's disease in 2008 at the age of 36. The mission of his foundation is to empower people with the disease to live active and fulfilling lives, with a focus on exercise, nutrition and emotional support programs.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metro ( www.bgcportland.org ): Founded by a Portland police officer in 1946 to help get young boys off the streets, the Boys & Girls Clubs now offers programs for both boys and girls ages six to 18 when schools are out, including after normal school hours and during breaks. An average of 3,000 children a days are served by the membership organization at six clubhouses across the region; it costs families $25 a year to join, but no child is turned away because of need.
The Dougy Center ( www.dougy.org ): Founded in 1982 by nurse Beverly Chappell, The Dougy Center was inspired by Dougy Turno, who died of an inoperable brain tumor at age 13. Today, it is widely regarded as an international leader in the field of childhood bereavement. In 35 years of service, the center has provided support groups to over 35,000 children, teens, young adults and their family members, and provided interventions to thousands of communities affected by tragedy. (For the 20th year, Dougy Center will also be selling raffle tickets for a new Porsche Boxster at a concourse booth. The winning ticket will be drawn at its annual benefit dinner and auction, scheduled for May 12 at the Portland Art Museum.)
JDRF Oregon/Southwest Washington ( www.jdrf.org ): The local chapter of the leading global organization funding Type 1 diabetes research is helping to support life-changing breakthroughs to cure, prevent and treat the disease and its complications. To date, the organization has funded nearly $2 billion in research, which has made significant progress in understanding and fight ing the disease; much of the money it raises goes to support local research and support efforts.
Meals on Wheels People ( www.mealsonwheelspeople.org ): Founded in 1969, the mission of Meals on Wheels People is to ensure that no senior goes hungry. Today, the organization produces 7,500 hot meals five days each week; the food is then delivered to 30 senior centers throughout Multnomah, Washington and Clark counties, where it is served to seniors in center dining rooms or delivered by more than 450 volunteers a day to frail, homebound elderly.
Self Enhancement Inc. ( www.selfenhancement.org ): Founded 31 years ago as a one-week summer basketball camp, SEI has grown to a year-round agency supporting at-risk urban youth. It offers a range of in-school, after-school, summer, post-high school, parental involvement and other programs. Although it started in Northeast Portland, SEI now offers services in East Multnomah County, too, including at David Douglas High School, and is currently serving around 10,000 families.
Victory Academy ( www.victoryacademy.org ): Now in its third year, the Victory Academy is a school in the Sherwood area that serves children with autism. After beginning in a rented church space, it opened its own schoolhouse after a capital drive in 2014; classes are attended by 70 students ages 3 to 17, with room for 25 more. Funds for the 45 full- and part-time staff and other expenses are raised by an annual auction, grant writing and individual contributors.
IF YOU GO
What: 2017 Portland International Auto Show, the largest display of new cars, trucks, vans and SUVs in the Pacific Northwest
When: Thursday through Sunday, Jan. 26-Jan. 29. (Begins with a Sneak Peek Charity Preview Party on Wednesday, Jan. 25.)
Hours: 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Thursday through Saturday; 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday.
Where: Oregon Convention Center, 777 N.E. MLK Jr. Blvd., Portland
Produced by: Portland Metro New Car Dealers Association
Presenting sponsor: Pamplin Media Group
Tickets and more information: www.portlandautoshow.com/visitor-information