A Veritable Kosher Two-fer

The Twin Cities based law firm of Fredrikson & Byron numbers just south of 300 attorneys and professionals globally (though the truth be told, I think they are mostly here in town). Of this total, somewhere in the vicinity of 20-30 are Jewish, or one way or another, or leaning that direction.
Like most firms their size, Fredrikson seems to market its services to a broad community, focusing in their case on the business world, by means of the diverse smattering of ‘practice groups’ they provide. It appears that traditionally, the majority of decisions regarding how and where best to market the firm are made by the firm itself, or individual departments or practice groups. (Full disclosure – both the firm itself, as well as many of its members, are active supporters, and occasional writers, for TC Jewfolk)
fredlawApparently not uncommon among law firms, at least a portion of the firm’s marketing dollars – beyond those available to departments or practice groups – are made available instead to the individual attorneys for their spending on ‘promotional’ matters that they determine might benefit their practices, and in turn, the firm. Thankfully, the world of Jewish causes can often provide just that sort of opportunity.
Problem is, with dozens or more ‘opportunities’ for marketing in the Jewish world locally, and well over 20 professionals at the firm who might consider doing so, the potential for inefficiencies became apparent. In the past, anywhere from one to a handful of attorneys might identify an appropriate Jewish agency or cause, typically one that they themselves are involved with, and either allocate dollars themselves or pool donor dollars from a few others. But it seems that process can begin to wear on a person.
Therein lies the rub, leading several individuals within the firm to establish a single “Tzedaka Fund,” now entering its third year, so those inclined could coalesce and maximize their funds and efforts.
According to Phil Goldman, one of the ‘founders’ of the fund, “With our firm growing over time, coupled with more Jewish professionals, and ever more opportunities to sponsor events (and promote ourselves) in the Jewish world, we found it difficult to keep up.“
In a process that has been and will remain both optional and informal, a goodly proportion of the firm’s members (mostly Jewish, but by no means all) have agreed to allocate a portion of their individual marketing budgets to the concept of this single “fund.” From there, a core group of those participants meet several times over the year in order to then allocate those funds accordingly, on behalf of them all, and the firm itself, in a manner that not only lessens the ‘tzores’ but maximizes the ‘nachas’.
This seems to have provided a “two-fer” in terms of benefits. The dollars themselves provide both the firm and the individuals with the promotional impact they are designed for.
Yet this approach also provides the recipient agency with much needed dollars, to the point where most Jewish agencies (as well as recipients everywhere) have become adept at providing a framework to encourage the use of marketing dollars, as well as traditional ‘donor’ dollars – either through various sponsorship opportunities, or via the bells and whistles that  align with conventional “Gold-Silver-Platinum” recognition categories (or these days, perhaps variations on the “Mensch” theme).
“It has turned out well,” according to participant and co-organizer Rhona Shwaid. “We have not only  increased participation over the couple years we’ve been going, but there has also been an increase in the array of opportunities we can now tap into on behalf of the firm”.
Yet another participant and co-leader, David Gollin, adds, “We hope that this approach might catch on with other firms in a similar mode – there is certainly plenty of room for all when it comes to sponsoring worthy causes”. So too, does the Fund hope to challenge its individual attorneys to become involved in the various recipient agencies and causes, as well as provide their own additional dollars over time – whether additional marketing dollars of their own or also through good, old-fashioned, no strings attached ‘contributions’ of their own.
And finally, agencies would be well advised to tap into this potential prospect  to find new and better ways to encourage not only traditional ‘donors’, but in this case, genuine and effective marketing and sponsorship opportunities that ensure that marketing dollars are well spent, in addition to them being well used once received.
Full disclosure: TC Jewfolk has received money from the Fredrickson & Byron Tzedakah fund in exchange for banner advertising on the site.