A Message from Ronald McDonald House Trustee and Wells Fargo Market Executive Steve Bernstein
Gandhi’s words on service ring true: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
As San Diego’s market executive for Wells Fargo Commercial Banking, one of the most important parts of my job is to empower my team to provide industry-leading service and support to our customers – and I believe philanthropy plays a key role in this process.
Supporting local nonprofits through financial donations makes a tremendous impact on our communities. In 2018, Wells Fargo donated nearly $3.8 million through 292 grants to local nonprofits, schools and community organizations. I couldn’t be more proud to work for a company that puts dollars behind these exceptional groups.
That said, while philanthropic contributions clearly help local nonprofits make a positive impact, I believe community giving can have a very special impact on employees, especially when leaders approach it through the lens of one word: “why.”
Just like fans love to cheer for their home team, employees who rally behind a common cause feel tied to one another to reach an objective. Building relationships and setting goals for raising donations gives team members something to look forward to, but it needs to be done in a way that is meaningful.
Take Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego (RMHC-SD) for instance. Last year, as part of RMHC-SD’s Red Shoe Day, Wells Fargo team members raised funds to help provide a “home-away-from-home” for families with children being treated for serious, often life-threatening conditions at local hospitals. Part of that success, from an employee engagement standpoint, stemmed from our commitment to educating employees about the organization – who it serves, what it really does and how it helps their neighbors. By sharing stories, we bring the “why” to life.
In late 2018, I learned my “why.” One of my dear friends delivered a premature baby who was hospitalized for six weeks. I couldn’t imagine my friend’s emotional pain and the overwhelming challenges her family faced as their world was turned upside down. In need of a place to stay, during one of the worst times in their family’s life, I directed them to San Diego’s Ronald McDonald House. It helped ease stress throughout their difficult journey.
I don’t share that story to take credit for the situation, but to demonstrate one thing: the power of deeply understanding the “why.”
It was only because I knew what the Ronald McDonald House was capable of doing, in part through Wells Fargo’s support of the organization, that I could help my friends.
Connecting to the “Why”
Making a personal connection to the “why” can be just as important as writing a check and organizing a volunteer event. In my case, it led to my friends getting the help they needed from an organization we support. Employees can make important new connections in their own networks as well. I encourage all of us to dig deep and find our personal “why” when sharing our decision to support a nonprofit.
About the author
Steve Bernstein is a longtime Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego supporter and advocate. He joined its Board of Trustees in December 2018.
The views expressed present the opinions of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wells Fargo & Co., its affiliates and subsidiaries.