In 2018, more than 1,600 Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. associates from 89 locations gave back to their communities by volunteering across the United States, Asia and Europe.
The employees logged more than 7,000 volunteer hours for nearly 150 nonprofit organizations during the company’s annual Baird Gives Back Week.
The event was launched in 2009 as a formalized way for associates to connect with their communities.
“The firm has always had a strong history of giving back, but this effort, launched initially in Milwaukee, was a way to formalize those efforts, as well as provide opportunities for networking and connections associates may not have had in the past,” said Erik Peterson, client and tax reporting manager.
The effort was expanded firmwide in 2011.
Each year, during the second or third week in May, Baird locations around the world participate in the annual event throughout their communities.
“It’s a week where we really celebrate the giving that we do all year long,” said Samantha Panella, client specialist.
Panella and Peterson co-chair the Baird Gives Back Associate Resource Group which helps plan the annual Baird Gives Back Week.
Last year in Milwaukee, Baird associates volunteered for more than 30 organizations, including AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, Alliance School of Milwaukee, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, East Town Association, Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, Fondy Food Center, HEAR Wisconsin, Hunger Task Force, Guest House of Milwaukee, Special Olympics Wisconsin and the Waukesha Women’s Center, among others.
“The organizations we work with are selected in many different ways,” Peterson said. “We work with our associates to determine which organizations they are passionate about and then we take a look at each of the organizations to see if our missions align and if they have a need for our employees.”
New to the organization lineup in 2018 were Milwaukee Riverkeeper, where Baird employees were able to assist in the organization’s annual river cleanup preparation; Revitalize Milwaukee, where Baird helped inventory building materials; and the Wisconsin Veterans Network, where Baird assisted with a clerical scanning project.
“We make it easy for our associates to get involved with organizations they haven’t worked with in the past,” Panella said. “There are organizations on our list that prior to Baird Gives Back Week, our associates may have never heard of before.”
Panella herself got involved with HEAR Wisconsin initially as part of the event. She now sits on the board of directors for the organization.
Volunteers that sign up during the week are Baird employees at all levels, Peterson said.
Steve Booth, chief executive officer, has helped out at various organizations, and in 2018, participated in the cleanup of the Urban Ecology Center.
“The mission of Baird Gives Back Week is supported at all levels of the organization,” Peterson said. “Volunteers include everyone from our CEO, to a cross section of senior leaders in the organization, to our interns in the office.”
Baird allows its associates two full paid days off to volunteer each year, Panella added.
“The hope is that our employees use those days to get out into the community, find an organization they are passionate about and continue that work throughout the year,” he said.