Make-A-Wish ball provides example of business giving back to the community

Jim Atherton / KRT

By all accounts, Miami’s economic rebound is well under way. The hotel sector — one of the industries hardest hit during the recession — is seeing a return to normal levels of visitor volume and another boost in traffic is expected during the upcoming peak travel season.

Despite the strides our local business base has made, many of our community’s most well-intentioned nonprofit organizations are still struggling to secure the dollars necessary for maintaining and expanding their impact.

With the holidays approaching, businesses and the professionals who lead them are looking for ways to give back. While many companies and executives instinctively turn to their checkbooks to make a tax-deductible charitable gift, private-sector donors can often make a greater impact through in-kind donations that tap into their company’s existing skill set and infrastructure for the benefit of a mission-driven organization.

Examples are everywhere: Apparel retailers donate surplus clothing; restaurants provide unused food to shelters; and companies with large workforces offer staff members paid time off in order to volunteer their time in the community.

Hotels — with event spaces and in-house production capabilities — are another example of businesses that are putting existing resources to work.

Case in point: Our hotel has partnered with Make-A-Wish Southern Florida to present the InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball for nearly two decades.

This partnership with Make-A-Wish Southern Florida is more than a basic sponsorship. Our hotel has donated the in-kind value of the event’s food, beverage, parking, accommodation and venue expenses, in addition to more than 8,000 management hours committed to planning the ball over 19 years.

These contributions eliminate a large portion of the overhead costs that come with a traditional gala and enable Make-A-Wish Southern Florida to recoup the maximum amount of charitable dollars earned, essentially leveraging our contribution to raise more dollars.

Over the past 19 years, and with the continued support of Strategic Hotels & Resorts for the past eight years, our hotel has contributed more than $4 million through in-kind donations to Make-A-Wish Southern Florida. These donations have enabled the organization to raise more than $12.3 million through our event dating back to 1995, resulting in more than 2,600 wishes being granted to children with life-threatening medical conditions in our community.

Beyond our community commitment, hosting the ball is also an opportunity to open our hotel’s doors to Miami’s business and civic communities, creating invaluable marketing exposure among current and potential clients. In this sense, it’s a win-win for all parties involved.

Our partnership with Make-A-Wish Southern Florida is a real-world example of how businesses and nonprofits are working together to leverage in-kind gifts as vehicles for securing additional support and ensuring a maximum percentage of donated funds are put to good use.

While opening up the check book for the benefit of nonprofits should always be a priority, the leaders of smart, socially minded companies should consider doing even more this year. In-kind gifts can help stretch your dollar while amplifying your community impact.

Robert Hill serves as general manager of the InterContinental Miami hotel, which is owned by Chicago-based Strategic Hotels & Resorts. He is also chair of the steering committee for the InterContinental Miami Make-A-Wish Ball.

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