How the Satell Institute Changed the Thinking of One CEO



As the CEO and Managing Director of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, with offices in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Joseph A. Dougherty has always felt a commitment to give back to the communities where his firm practices. As a nationally recognized litigator, Joe’s practice primarily focuses on post-employment disputes, often involving the enforcement and defense of employment agreements, restrictive covenants, trade secrets and protection of competitively sensitive business information.

Joe has been named to the Pennsylvania Super Lawyers list from 2005 to the present and recognized in the Corporate Counsel Super Lawyers list for a number of years.

Active in many civic and charitable organizations, Joe serves on the boards of the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey and the Heinz History Center. He is also a participant in the CEO Council of Philadelphia and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

“One of my favorite quotes is ‘To whom much is given, much is expected,’” Joe says.  “I have always felt an obligation to give back, both as an individual and a member of a firm. We have always supported nonprofits in the communities where we work in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. It wasn’t until I became a member of the Satell Institute that I learned a key component of CSR – commitment.”

What do you mean by commitment?

We always donated to our nonprofits on a year-to-year basis. We held an annual meeting to make our choices. It never occurred to us that this procedure represented a hardship to the nonprofits we supported. We couldn’t run a law firm very long if we only had a one-year projection of revenue. We weren’t giving our nonprofits the support they needed to plan and staff effectively. There are only two requirements for membership in the Satell Institute: a four-year commitment, and that commitment at $25,000 or more each year.

How did you learn about the Satell Institute?

You can’t live and work in Philadelphia for any length of time without hearing about Ed Satell. He’s Mr. Philanthropy. I don’t remember if I read about the Institute or heard about it through a colleague. In any case, I wasn’t particularly interested in joining. We had active giving programs in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and I didn’t see how we would benefit from any outside influence.

What changed your mind?

I got hooked at the first meeting I attended. I went almost reluctantly, but realized this had to be something special when I noticed the CEOs in attendance. They represented some of the best companies in the greater Philadelphia area. The motivation of the group was incredible. We were all there for a common cause, to help the nonprofits of our choice make things better for our community. There was a free exchange of ideas on how we can maximize our contributions. We are free to make our own choices about the nonprofits we plan to support. But some of the ideas exchanged as we break up into smaller groups at these meetings are extremely beneficial. I get something out of every meeting.

What do you see as the unique strengths of membership in the Satell Institute?

I like the feeling I get that I’m not alone, that other CEOs in the area feel as strongly as I do about CSR. I like to hear other CEOs discuss their experiences with CSR and why they made their choices. The ideas we exchange at meetings are invaluable. By partnering together, we make a more dramatic effect on the communities we’re trying to help. I also like the educational wing of the Satell Institute. We get incredible research and information that simply isn’t available elsewhere.

Can you give an example?

The Satell Institute has published surveys showing that CSR is good for society and good for business. A lot of consumers like to do business with companies that practice CSR. Studies also show that these firms have lower turnover and higher productivity.

What would you say to a CEO who is contemplating a CSR program?

Join the Satell Institute. You will have access to some of the best minds in the area and some of the best research available anywhere. Of significance, there are no dues because the Satell Institute’s costs are fully funded by its endowment so 100% of our donations go to the nonprofit of our choice.

Satell Institute Growth Continues!

Membership at SI continues to grow with great companies and private foundations choosing to support Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Our members recognize a collective force can do more for communities than any organization can do on its own.

 This week we welcome the following new member:

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