Patti Eshman, AVP of Community Relations, Grange Insurance

Grange associates are known for being so giving of their time. Tell me what you think motivates all of your volunteers in the community?  

It starts at the top - from the CEO on down we all do volunteer work. We provide information on a regular basis to our associates and share the volunteer opportunities and link them to nonprofits to learn more about what they do. It’s part of the culture here. Our associates feel strongly about doing something which I appreciate so much.

With a younger workforce, they often have more time than money and they also want to know what they can do to help. If it’s volunteerism they are all about that. Even over the past two years, our volunteerism has increased at staggering levels. It’s amazing. For example, we partnered with a local poor performing elementary school and outlined the statistics about the failure rates and poverty rates. You paint the picture for why the volunteers are needed and that story motivates our associates to help tutor at Fairwood. We have found our community work is also a great recruitment tool.

Grange offers up to two full paid days off per year, and we have an accolade cart where associates can nominate each other for doing great things. We created levels of rewards for associates when they volunteer at one event, five events, etc. They don’t do it for the recognition and many give their time well beyond the two paid days or the reward levels we provide.

What is the process for a nonprofit to get a grange board member placed with them?

Schedule an appointment with us. I meet with anyone - even if our funding focus doesn’t fit and we may not be able to fund them I am always happy to meet. Organizations need to start a relationship first before we will place a board member. We need a Grange officer on the board to invest significantly in the nonprofit.

Can you share why the Grange Audubon Center was such a good project for you?

Grange is close to the Whittier Peninsula so it was a good match. We wanted to help in our backyard and provide a unique space in the city where you can see different things from each view – the city one side, conservation on the other side. There is no other Audubon Center like it. We provided a $4 million investment and our former CEO, Phil Urban, was integral in steering that campaign to its success. 

What is your primary focus for charitable giving and do you have deadlines annually for applications?

We have a newly created Donor Advised Fund at The Columbus Foundation, and we don’t have formal deadlines right now but we are considering it for the future. For now, our focus is still on Health and Human Services and United Way of Central Ohio is our largest recipient because we provide a dollar for dollar match on our employee campaign. Other key partners include the Ronald McDonald House, Maryhaven, YMCA, YWCA, American Red Cross, Directions for Youth, St. Vincent’s and many others. 

What about capital and special events - how are those considered?

Typically, capital campaign and event support requests are nonprofits with which we have a longstanding relationship. 

You offer in-kind printing to nonprofits. Is there special focus for that and special deadlines? What do you not print?

We recognize that in-kind, pro-bono printing is as good as providing cash to a nonprofit. The fair market value of our printing was $100,000 last year so it is significant. We print programs, save the date cards, marketing materials and other documents that act to help get the message out about nonprofits.

Our first priority is meeting the print needs of the company. We try to cap the monthly nonprofit print jobs so we aren’t overtaxing our print staff.  We don’t do design work so nonprofits need them to have the artwork printer ready. We don’t print non-standard sizes and we have print guidelines we can share with nonprofits. We need six months advance notice for print requests.

Where can people go to learn more about green just work in the community?

Our website is a good place to start (https://www.grangeinsurance.com/careers?a=#community) It describes activities in the community and some of the organizations we support.

Any advice to share for young professionals?

I never had a plan like some people I knew in law school. I have learned that you may lose some really interesting opportunities if you don’t have more of an open mind. Every job I’ve had since law school leads me to the next one. It was hard work and distinguishing myself at one job where someone I interacted with ended up being my employer at the next job.

Work hard, have a decent work-life balance, distinguish yourself, have an open mind, don’t be afraid of failure or disappointment. It will come somehow and someway but you will get through it.