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The Big Give: Investing in the Wellness of Columbus

Walker Evans Walker Evans The Big Give: Investing in the Wellness of Columbus
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Tom Krouse says that when you read the mission statement of his organization, you may not be sure if it’s a nonprofit or a for-profit business:

“Create a superior product, hire great people, and promote goodwill in business and the community.”

But when you realize that the organization is actually Donatos Pizza, you quickly become aware that this is a locally-owned business with a big emphasis on giving back.

“When Jim Grote started the company over 50 years ago, he said that he wanted to have a business based on integrity and ethics, so that’s always been a part of what Donatos is,” said Krouse, who serves as President and CEO at Donatos. “Our associates have operated something called ‘Project Goodwill’ for the past ten years where every day there is some sort of fundraising activity either in our office building or in our stores. Our associates vote on who they want to support, and they get the chance to take off work and volunteer in the community. It’s something that we ought to do, and something people want to do — we never have to twist anyone’s arm to do it.”

So, when The Columbus Foundation launched The Big Give campaign in 2011, Donatos was drawn toward the idea of taking their community advocacy ideals to a wider audience and helping out by incentivizing donations with product giveaways. This year, anyone who donates online to The Big Give during the 24-hour period between 10am on Tuesday, May 12th and 10am on Tuesday, May 13th will receive a coupon for a free one-topping seven-inch pizza.

“We’re already promoting The Big Give within the company, giving out flyers to stores and putting magnets on our delivery vehicles,” said Krouse. “We want our customers to be able to support the charities that they’re already directly involved with.”

When it comes to direct involvement at Donatos, the Grote family is well known for their support of projects and initiatives on the South Side of Columbus. In 2012, the family pledged $1 million toward the Southern Gateway Initiative, an effort to assist with rehabilitating homes and providing services to South Side neighborhoods. The Grote family was also involved in the rehabilitation of the former Reeb Elementary School to provide operational space for 13 different social service organizations and other nonprofits.

“There’s a soft spot in our heart there, mostly because that’s where the biggest needs are,” explained Krouse. “We’re happy to be a part of making some change down there.”

Krouse said that while Donatos has always had a relationship with The Columbus Foundation, their expanded role came about through a relationship with Foundation President and CEO Doug Kridler. He said that that has led Donatos to being more directly involved with events like The Big Give, and has also given Donatos new reasons to champion the year-round work that The Foundation does.

“I’m so thankful that this community has an organization like The Columbus Foundation,” said Krouse. “I’m not sure people realize that it’s one of the top five foundations in the country. What they’re able to do helps invest in the overall wellness of Columbus, and I hope people can see that.”

All Central Ohioans are invited to support their favorite charities and causes during The Big Give. Online donations to over 630 local nonprofit organizations can be made between 10am on Tuesday May 12th and 10am on Tuesday May 13th. All individual contributions will be amplified by a $1.3 million bonus pool assigned on a pro rata basis.

For more information, visit www.columbusfoundation.org.

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