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Auto dealers get strategic with giving

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Seven local charities will beenfit this year from the 2017 Portland International Auto Show. Fundraising includes a Sneak Peek Charity Preview Party the evening before the show opens.


PORTLAND TRASIL BLAZERS - The Portland Metro New Car Dealers Association presented a check from its 2016 Sneak Peek Charity Party at a Portland Trail Blazer game. From left, those pictured and their organizations are: Russ Humberston Jr., Beaverton Toyota; Tony Staser, Meals on Wheels; Todd Coffman, EC Company/Meals on Wheels board member; Jim Fisher, Fisher Volvo; Maddie Remensperger, PMNCDA; Doug Cain, Providence Medical Center; MacKenzie Beasley, Lanphere Enterprises; Shannon Inukai Cuffee, Dick's Auto Group (in the back behind MacKenzie); Greg Remensperger, PMNCDA; Bob Lanphere Jr., Lanphere Enterprises; Chris Meier, Herzog Meier Auto Center (behind Bob Lanphere); Judy Summers, JDRF; Dave Jachter, Wilsonville Toyota/ Wilsonville Subaru; and Erin Hubert, Boys and Girls Club Portland.Many companies are changing the way they give to charities, and car dealers in the Portland area are no exception. Over the past three years, the dealers who organize the annual Portland International Auto Show have set a goal of using it to generate $1 million a year in donations to local charities.

The largest fundraising event is a Sneak Peek Charity Party scheduled the evening before the show opens. The first three raised $1.25 million.

The next one is scheduled for Jan. 25, the day before the 2017 Portland International Auto Show opens at the Oregon Convention Center. It is aiming to raise another $500,000 for seven local charities.

Additionally, profits from the four-day show that ends on Jan. 29 are scheduled to be given to the 10 auto dealers who sit on the board of directors of the Portland Metro New Car Dealers Association, which presents the show. Each will have the opportunity to contribute their shares to charities of their choosing. The total amounted to $110,000 last year.

Although the association has long donated to charitable causes, the new system is much more strategic and beneficial than in the past, says car dealers association Executive Vice President Greg Remensperger.

"In the past, we would be inundated with year-round requests as well as wanting to help with emergency needs like Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy as well as the tsunami in Japan. Sometimes we found ourselves being more responsive to requests based on timing rather than need," Remensperger says.

The occasionally reactive nature of the giving prompted three board members to advocate for a much more proactive approach that prioritized regional needs.

They were current association President and Herzog-Meier Auto Center owner Chris Meier, Immediate Past President Bob Lanphere Jr., and Wilsonville Toyota owner Dave Jachter. Their efforts led the association to set the $1 million fundraising goal and create the preview party to achieve it.

"We see the Sneak Peek Charity Preview Party as a win-win-win for those who attend," Remensperger says. "They get to go to a great party, get to tour the auto show before it opens, and they know they're helping local charities,"

The auto dealers association underwrites the entire party, so all of the proceeds are donated to the charities. This year, the party will include a raffle to give away a new Audi A4 donated by Audi Beaverton. Entry to the raffle is included in the $100 ticket — $90 of which is tax deductible.

Such strategic thinking is happening at many companies that give to charities, according to a panel on corporate giving sponsored by the Portland Business Alliance on Dec. 14. Panelist Keith Thomajan, president and CEO of United Way of the Columbia-Pacific, said more and more companies are rethinking their traditional practices for several reasons.

For one thing, requests for contributions increased so much during and after the Great Recession, many companies decided they needed to establish new standards to screen them. Research and discussions prompted a lot of them to conclude that local charities improve their communities, both helping people and giving the companies a competitive advantage, a recent concept called "context-focused giving."

"If your community thrives, your businesses thrive," said another panelist, Michelle Weisenbach, market president and commercial banking leader for Key Bank.

Who benefits this year?

These are the seven charities to benefit from this year's Sneak Peak Preview Party. All are selling tickets.

Brian Grant Foundation Brian Grant originally started his foundation when he was playing for the Portland Trail Blazers to help seriously ill children, something he had done throughout his career. After retiring from basketball and returning to his adopted hometown of Portland, Grant was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson's disease in 2008 at the age of 36.

To provide strength, support and inspiration to others who are affected by the disease, Grant refocused the mission of the foundation to empower people with the disease to live active and fulfilling lives.

Website: briangrant.org

JDRF CHAPTER - JDRF Oregon/SW Washington board member Nazanin Karimi Hajari (right) brought two guests to last year's charity party.Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland Metro Founded by a Portland police officer in 1946 to help get young boys off the streets, the nonprofit now offers programs for boys and girls ages 6 to 18 after school and during school breaks. It operates six clubhouses in Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas and Clark counties, and is scheduled to open its seventh in the Rockwood area in the fall of 2017. All have kitchens where hot meals are prepared and rooms for spaces for physical activities and academic, technical art and employment preparation classes. An average of 3,000 children a day are served by the membership organization, which costs families $25 a year to join, but no child is turned away because of need.

Website: bgcportland.org

The Dougy Center Founded in 1982 by nurse Beverly Chappell, The Dougy Center was inspired by Dougy Turno, a brave and generous young boy who died of an inoperable brain tumor at age 13. Today, it is widely regarded as an international leader in the field of childhood bereavement. In 35 years of service, the center has provided support groups to more than 35,000 children, teens, young adults and their family members, and provided interventions to thousands of communities in response to tragedies such as the Umpqua Community College shootings, 2001 World Trade Center bombings, the 2010 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school shootings. Last year, 1,906 children and families received free support services at one of the Dougy Center's three locations in Portland, Hillsboro, and Canby.

Website: dougy.org

BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS - Children, parents, community members and police attended the groundbreaking for the new Boys & Girls Clubs community center in Rockwood last summer.JDRF Oregon/Southwest Washington The local chapter of the leading global organization funding Type 1 diabetes research is helping to fund life-changing breakthroughs to cure, prevent and treat the disease and its complications. Much of the money it raises goes to support local research and support work.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that strikes both children and adults suddenly. The original name of the organization — the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation — was shortened because half of those with Type 1 diabetes are not adults. To date, the organization has funded nearly $2 billion in research, which has made significant progress in understanding and fighting the disease.

Website: jdrf.org

Meals on Wheels People Founded in 1969, the mission of Meals on Wheels People was to ensure that no seniors go hungry. Today, the organization produces 7,500 hot, nutritious meals five days each week in a 14,000-square-foot commercial kitchen in Multnomah Village in Southwest Portland. They are then delivered to 30 senior centers throughout Multnomah, Washington and Clark counties, where they are served at noon to seniors in center dining rooms or sent out as Meals on Wheels by more than 450 volunteers a day to frail, homebound elderly.

All of the money raised at the charity party will be used to buy food, said Julie Piper Finley, Meals on Wheels director of marketing and communications.

Website: mealsonwheelspeople.org

Self Enhancement Inc. Founded 31 years ago as a one-week summer basketball camp, SEI has grown into a year-round agency supporting at-risk urban youth. It offers a range of in-school, after-school, summer, post-high school, parental involvement and other programs. Although it started in Northeast Portland, SEI now offers services in East Multnomah County, too, including at David Douglas High School.

Each student has an SEI coordinator who is available 24 hours a day to school functions, parent-teacher conferences, graduations and even family funerals. SEI's goal is to help students recognize challenges and opportunities, evaluate options and make choices and decisions that keep them on the best path in the direction of their dreams. It is currently serving around 10,000 families.

Website: selfenhancement.org

Victory Academy Now in its third year, Victory Academy is a school serving children with autism located in the Sherwood area. After beginning in a rented church space, it opened its own schoolhouse after a capital drive in 2014. The school is attended by 70 students ages 3 to 17, with room for 25 more.

With a philosophy that all children with autism can learn and succeed in different ways, the school teaches communications, life and work skills. Funds for the 45 full- and part-time staff and other expenses are raised by an annual auction, grant writing and individual contributors.

Website: victoryacademy.org

If you go

2017 auto show

What: The largest display of new cars, trucks, vans and SUVs in the region, with additional family-friendly exhibits

When: Thursday, Jan. 26 to Sunday, Jan. 29. Begins with Sneak Peek Charity Preview Party on Wednesday, Jan. 25.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Thursday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday

Where: Oregon Convention Center, 777 N.E. MLK Jr. Blvd.

Produced by: Portland Metro New Car Dealers Association

Presenting Sponsor: Pamplin Media Group

Tickets and more information: portlandautoshow.com