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Leader to Leader: Why Multiyear Gifts Are Crucial to Nonprofits
May 5, 2022
WSFS Bank’s Vernita Dorsey, who’ll speak at SI’s upcoming Private CEO Conference, on how longer-term commitments help nonprofits fulfill their missions
Vernita Dorsey has spent nearly four decades in banking, all of it dealing with the community. What she’s learned: a strong bond between nonprofit and for-profit organizations is absolutely crucial to improving the quality of life in communities.
Dorsey, senior vice president and director of community strategy at WSFS Bank, will give a rapid-fire presentation at the Satell Institute’s Spring 2022 Private CEO Conference, putting a particular focus on the evolving relationship between for-profits and nonprofits. Here she discusses those relationships and how all parties—nonprofits, for-profits and the community at large—benefits when businesses are active in Corporate Social Responsibility.
As director of community strategy…
I handle our corporate giving, our foundational giving, and our team WSFS volunteers, which includes our 2300 associates. We find opportunities for them to be of help to our nonprofit partners.
When we partner with nonprofit organizations…
We’re really partnering to make relationships. It’s not just, we’ll give you some money, one and done. We learn about the organization. I have a team that works with me, and I have several subcommittees that review all of the requests that we get in—last year I believe it was 787 requests that we reviewed. Now, we didn’t approve them all, but we reviewed every last one of them, and we met with 70 percent of those nonprofits that submitted.
We embrace multiyear giving because…
I remember when I first started in this position, the attitude was we really don’t like to support paying salaries at nonprofits because when you stop funding it, what happens? But the mindset has changed. You realize without people, how are you going to get any of these programs and services done? Will we always support programmatic things? Yes. But there’s a realization that we have to give nonprofits more stability so they can go year to year knowing they have funding. They’re spending a lot of time writing grants and trying to get money, which is time they could be using to do what it is they do.
If COVID showed us anything as a nation, it’s that our nonprofit partners are really the ones shoring up a lot of these service that are provided. And so we as for-profit organizations have to play an integral role in helping.
When we form these relationships with our nonprofit partners…
It’s helping us to do better at what we do. Our president [Rodger Levenson] is very passionate about the work that we do in the community and the reasoning behind what we do. It’s because it’s the right thing to do—not just because we’ve got to meet a number or our regulators want us to do it. It’s the right thing to do for the communities that we’re in.
And it’s the right thing to do for us. The community recognizes our contributions. Our customers appreciate it. And our employees want to be part of it.
Giving back to communities is crucial in attracting and retaining talent because…
My job falls within our human resources group, and so I get to see first-hand some of the things that go on in the recruiting process. And that’s a question that a lot of new hires are asking. What are you doing to support the community in a philanthropic manner? What opportunities are there for us to engage in volunteerism with the company? Our company allows associates four hours per month, on company time, to do volunteerism in the community. That’s 2300 associates, four hours per month. That’s a lot from a dollars and sense standpoint. But again, it is the right thing to do, and it helps us get the best people.