When PreSchool Partners needed a new facility to accommodate their growing program they looked to Hoar Construction. As part of their commitment to the community Hoar donated its construction fee to PreSchool Partners at the project’s finish.
Like many corporations, Birmingham-based Hoar Construction has a set of “core values” that guides its business. What makes Hoar special is that its values emphasize not just a strong work ethic and continuous improvement but also caring for others, compassion for families and stewardship of community resources.
Benevolence has been part of the company’s fabric from the moment it was founded, in 1940, by Friend Reed (FR) Hoar. Over time, Hoar has become an industry standard-bearer with a national presence. In 2001, leaders at the company recognized that charitable giving should evolve along with the business. They turned to the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham for help. “We’re focused on construction,” says Hoar Executive Vice President for Business Operations Doug Eckert. “So, we need great partners like the Community Foundation in order to be excellent at philanthropy, too.”
Hoar spent several years building the principal for its donor-advised fund with the Foundation, and continues to grow the fund by contributing a portion of annual company profit. When tornadoes devastated parts of Alabama in 2011, the fund stepped in to pay for construction coordinators who made sure families got back into well-built homes and that funds were used to help as many families as possible—an example of the stewardship enshrined in Hoar’s core values.
Since then, the company has taken a two-pronged approach to grant-making. First by encouraging employees to advocate for causes they care about. Hoar also supporting efforts in the Community Foundation’s areas of focus through the Giving Together program, which allows donors to pool resources, participate in site visits to potential grantees and learn about new initiatives.
The two strategies have been mutually reinforcing. Hoar employees become deeply engaged with charities introduced to the company by the Foundation, donating their own time on top of the company’s grants. At the same time, Foundation staff is always on the lookout for organizations that match Hoar’s values and interests. “They’ve come to learn about our mission, and they’re really good at seeing an opportunity out there and connecting the dots,” Eckert says.
“Making those connections is what we do,” says the Community Foundation’s Lora Terry. “Hoar’s job is to build better communities. Ours is to help them do it.”