Giving back, doing good, and community involvement have always been pillars at King, Prell & Associates, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial. The company’s managing partners Leigh King and Kevin Prell donate time and resources in authentic and purposeful ways, doing things like volunteering at their local churches and kids’ sports teams.
“Giving back is part of who we are. It makes you feel good and strengthens your sense of community,” Kevin states. “By nature, as a company that does financial planning, we like to help people. It’s been integrated into how we run the practice and it’s an important part of our purpose and our company culture.”
According to Kevin, “The benefit of giving back and being kind to other people is that it helps build trust and attract prospects—but the main reason is to give back to the community you live in.”
Community involvement is ingrained in King, Prell & Associates, which genuinely feels a part of its community in Simsbury, CT. In turn, Kevin recognizes that the community has supported their business and helped it succeed.
King, Prell & Associates takes what Kevin calls a “leave the place better than when you arrived” approach. The company is always looking for ways to not only give back to the community, but to improve and strengthen it, too.
Most small businesses feel the same, according to seedership’s 2020 Spring into Kindness Small Business study. Out of more than 400 small businesses surveyed, 99% gave back to their communities within the past year and 70% gave consistently throughout the year.
For King, Prell & Associates, giving back and community involvement go hand-in-hand. As Kevin explains, “It helps us connect with the people who are in the community. It also helps us connect with our clients in a deeper way. By providing opportunities for us to do good together with our clients, we’re creating new, fulfilling experiences that show the ways we’re driving change in our community.”
While giving back came naturally to King, Prell & Associates, it was done on a case-by-case basis. It didn’t occur to the company to track the impact of the its efforts, admits Kevin. Not until about two years ago, when longtime clients Jennifer and Ray Smithberger shared about their idea for an application to measure a business’ giving efforts and showcase their impact.
Jennifer and Ray provided a comprehensive view of seedership, explaining how it could help King, Prell & Associates’ understand its total investment back into the community—its financial commitment, volunteer time, and donations of in-kind products/services—and keep their good more top-of-mind and visible.
“Getting an aggregate view of what we give back both as a business and individually as employees opened our eyes to the greater impact we have over time, and motivated us to take a deeper look at how we could achieve more value for the community and our business,” Kevin recalls.
He was intrigued and King, Prell & Associates immediately hopped on board, becoming seedership’s first client in 2018.
“We built seedership to help businesses showcase the good they do and encourage customers who want to make a difference in their communities to support these businesses,” explains seedership Co-Founder Jennifer Smithberger. “We’re grateful King, Prell & Associates was one of our early adopters because they are a great fit for our mission and continue to provide us with invaluable feedback,” adds Jennifer.
Using the seedership platform enabled King, Prell & Associates to visually see where their resources were going—and recognize it was scattered. They decided to narrow their focus around causes that better aligned with their business expertise and clients’ interests. Since then, their approach to community giving has been more purpose-driven and taken a more thoughtful, planned approach.
With three giving themes—youth and families, financial literacy, and economic sustainability of their community as the basis for determining where they invest their resources—King, Prell & Associates set goals to get involved, give back and make an impact. They planned “kindness acts” including teaching personal finance at local high schools, forming an inner-city youth mentoring/internship program, sorting donations at the annual Covenant to Care Coat Drive and sponsoring an arts sculpture in celebration of Simsbury’s 350th anniversary with proceeds benefitting the Simsbury Chamber of Commerce.
With a plan for giving in place, the company could better connect with the people in their community. “It encouraged staff to do some additional volunteer work and it get clients involved in the giving back,” Kevin notes. “It’s more of an all-hands-on-deck kind of approach.”
The giving plan helped King, Prell & Associates better target its spending, too. “As a company, you have limited resources, so you want to target your dollars to the places that mean the most. We tend to give back to places where we can help track the results or track where the money is going and see a benefit for us and for our clients,” says Kevin.
“We didn’t track how we were giving back, how many hours we were giving, how many dollars we were giving, and who was the beneficiary of our giving,” he admits. “Working with seedership has really helped us focus and want to make a bigger impact with our giving efforts.”
Before, the company’s giving approach may have been what Kevin describes as “a one-off scenario.” Now they seek to create a giving experience, where the company becomes more involved by continuing to engage with a specific organization and creating multiple prongs of giving.
Using seedership’s Total Kindness Impact® (TKI) Profile, King, Prell & Associates could easily share about its community action and track giving metrics. “I actually have a link to our profile in my email signature tagline, so anyone can view our profile and explore what we are doing in the community,” says Kevin. “It helps create connection points with existing and prospective clients because they can easily look at the ways we’ve given back.”
He notes, “A client forwarded one of my emails to her mother, who recently became a client, too. In our first meeting, she mentioned how she had clicked the link to our TKI profile to get a bigger picture of who we are and what matters to us.”
The platform has also helped King, Prell & Associates understand what their employees are doing throughout the community. Employees can track what they give back and post their giving stories, helping the firm learn about the organizations and causes they care about, and reward them with paid days off to do volunteer work. “Before seedership, I’d only find out about our employees’ community engagement through ‘water cooler conversations,’” Kevin admits.
With seedership’s encouragement, King, Prell & Associates also created a Community Commitment Statement in which the company recognized its desire to co-create inspiring opportunities for employees and clients to give back in positive ways.
King, Prell & Associates’ relationship with Healing Meals, an organization that prepares healthy meals for people with severe health issues, is a perfect example. While the company used to be approached for a monetary donation, with seedership’s guidance they’ve been involved in multiple ways, inviting clients to help cut vegetables and prepare meals and having Healing Meals cater a holiday party instead of going to a restaurant, so the money goes toward the organization.
Collaborating with Forge City Works to create Kitchen Battles, a Chopped-meets-Iron-Chef cooking competition event, was another way King, Prell & Associates was able to involve clients, employees, and Forge City Works staff in an activity that combined volunteering and fun.
With seedership’s mission in mind, King, Prell & Associates has begun reaching out to help other small businesses in their community. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Kevin wanted to do something to help. Inspired by Chef Tyler Anderson, owner of six local restaurants, who was preparing meals for out-of-work food service employees, Kevin reached out to another local restaurant to brainstorm a similar idea.
“Metro Bis is one of our favorite local restaurants. When the pandemic forced them to close, we decided to help with a seed donation, which helped them grow the “Feed the Frontline CT” program. Metro Bis raised more than $25,000 and delivered more than 3,000 meals for frontline medical professionals and first responders throughout Connecticut,” explains Kevin.
The involvement with seedership has helped King, Prell & Associates recognize broader opportunities to give back by participating and creating unique experiences versus purely monetary donations.
“We like making those types of monetary donations,” Kevin underscores, “However, we really enjoy being part of the action. With a hands-on approach to giving, we can see the direct impact of our efforts—it’s also a gratifying experience for our employees and clients.”
To learn more about King, Prell & Associates community giving, click here to visit their seedership profile.