On the first day for any new employee of the RSM office in City Square, they learn where the cafeteria is, they are shown their desk, and then they are given the 4-1-1 on giving back to the Town.
“Giving back to Charlestown is a critical part of our culture here,” said Alex Monahan of the RSM Boston Foundation. “Everyone learns about it on day one at RSM. That’s how really important it is here.”
Added Chris MacKenzie, managing partner, “It’s all about how we can help the community here.”
Last Thursday, Jan. 24, RSM held its annual Birdies Fore Love check presentation at their City Square offices. Birdies Fore Love is an annual fundraiser that the company holds to support organizations in the local Charlestown community. This year, through the program, they gave out $259,000 to three local Charlestown organizations.
Organizations are awarded grants that are given incrementally over a three-year period. Already, Home Base – a veterans post-traumatic stress medical program in the Navy Yard – has received support over a three-year period from RSM. And now, the Harvard-Kent School, Warren-Prescott School and Charlestown Boys & Girls Club are in the midst of their three-year support.
On Thursday, the Harvard Kent was presented with a $170,000 check, the Warren Prescott with a $39,000 check and the Boys & Girls Club with a $50,000 check.
The money is fully raised by several hundred employees at the Charlestown branch office of RSM, where about 75 percent of employees give regularly to the Foundation from their paychecks and 100 percent donated to the Birdies for Love fundraiser. In 2017, the company raised $650,000 for charities, with $208,000 of that coming from the Birdies event.
This year was no different, and MacKenzie said their focus on Charlestown has been a wonderful addition to the effort.
Interestingly, employees not only give of their earnings, but also they get to pick what charities should get the money. And nowadays, organizations in Charlestown get overwhelming numbers of votes.
MacKenzie said that, before, the company gave out small grants all over the city in small increments, but eventually they felt they wanted to make a greater impact with the money.
“We would give out 500-plus grants per year, but it would go to a potpourri of organizations,” he said. “It was really spread out, like peanut butter on a piece of bread…We eventually began to wonder what would happen if we took a different approach and kept the grants closer to our community. We felt if we did that it could be more impactful. We were putting significant funding in place for kids in our community who could use the help. That’s the idea that started it four years ago.”
And in that time, it hasn’t only been money brought to the table.
RSM employees regularly volunteer for a day of service to help get the Harvard Kent, the Warren Prescott and the Edwards Middle Schools in tip-top shape to welcome students back to school. In the last few years, more than 600 RSM employees clad in their blue T-shirts have volunteered in that effort.
They also have sponsored plays, and donated their gently used office furniture and desks to local schools and organizations.
Their actions and donations have sparked interest from other businesses, as well as from City and state leaders. At the moment, State Rep. Dan Ryan and Councilor Lydia Edwards are using the RSM example to demonstrate a process that can be repeated at other businesses in the Town. “They are working on that right now and we are happy to help,” said Monahan. “We welcome any Charlestown business to walk through what we do and join us in helping the kids of Charlestown. It’s early in that process, but I know there is interest out there.”