Early in 2014, a small group of Partners Trust associates had a vision to extend the company’s ethos of trust and benevolence beyond clients’ needs and unto the greater good of the city. With the desire to raise both money and awareness for disenfranchised communities and the arts through initiatives for improved health, education and housing, Partners Trust became much more than just a real estate company.
With a collective concept among twelve Partners Trust founders and associates, the Partners Trust Charitable Giving Fund was born. A 501c3 non-profit that distributes grants to organizations that are innovative and effective in addressing problems within the greater L.A. area, the Charitable Giving Fund has grown to be an integral part of the company’s altruistic vision and local involvement.
After raising $100,000 for six beneficiaries in 2016 alone and announcing the first three beneficiaries for 2017, the committee decided to include an additional three charities to the first half of 2017, continuing its auspicious trajectory for giving more. We had the opportunity to chat with Darlene Hutton, a top-producing associate at Partners Trust and Co-Chair of the Partners Trust Charitable Giving Fund, to gain insight into why she gives back and to catch an insider’s glimpse into the Charitable Giving Fund, past, present and future.
PT: Before we dive in to talk about the Partners Trust Charitable Giving Fund, tell us more about yourself and what additional philanthropic efforts you’ve been involved in.
DH: I have a background in fundraising, ranging from my kids’ school fundraisers to the yearly charity wine event that my husband and I have hosted since 2004. I lost a girlfriend to breast cancer years ago and all the proceeds from our event go to breast cancer research, rotating between different hospitals like Cedars Sinai, St. John’s Hospital and the UCLA Jonsson Cancer Center. The event involves a wine pairing and both live and silent auctions, which have been known to raise more than $50,000.
PT: It’s been three years since the onset of the Partners Trust Charitable Giving Fund. Can you tell us about how you’ve seen it grow?
DH: It’s grown exponentially since its onset, with charitable organizations now approaching the committee rather than us seeking them out. Nevertheless, the qualifications are firm. Each beneficiary we choose donates 90 percent of their proceeds directly to their cause, whereas some organizations redirect a portion of their proceeds to their internal workforce. This is and always will be important to us.
PT: Where do you see the Partners Trust Charitable Giving Fund headed?
DH: With the overwhelming involvement and generosity among Partners Trust associates, the addition of three beneficiaries in 2017 represents Partners Trust’s commitment to the Los Angeles community. And after a monumental donation of $100,000 to six organizations in 2016, I believe we will have the means to increase both the amount of organizations that we give to and the monetary amount which we give.
PT: What separates the Partners Trust Charitable Giving Fund from other Los Angeles charitable organizations?
DH: The most notable aspect of the Fund is that we have 100 percent participation from Partners Trust associates. On top of that, the associates have witnessed the Fund’s impact firsthand, which is symbolic of the organization’s authentic engagement and personal attachment. In fact, federal legislation was recently passed to increase funds to aid Alzheimer’s research for the second year in a row, which was a direct impact of Partners Trust’s work with The Judy Fund, a charity that is directly connected to one of our founders, Richard Stearns’ family. Now, it’s a point of pride and connection for the Partners Trust family as a whole.
Also, the commitment of the Partners Trust’s Charitable Giving Committee is second to none. My Co-Chair Magnus Hellberg, board members Cassandra Petersen, Nick Segal, Richard Stearns, Gillian Abercrombie Frame, Dana Cataldi, Nancy Eisenstadt, Lauren Lambert, Maureen McCormick, Rick Ojeda, Richard von Ernst and the contribution from all of our associates and founders are integral to the Fund’s success.
PT: What are the Fund’s primary goals for the future?
DH: Today, the Partners Trust Charitable Giving Fund’s main intention is to raise awareness for different nonprofits and additional charities that haven’t quite received the recognition they deserve. We also plan to disburse funds into charity events hosted by Partners Trust associates and to become a respected sponsor within the community. We want to let people know that Partners Trust isn’t just a real estate company; we also have compassion and empathy. There’s something to be said about companies that give back. The Fund’s projected direction is only up from here.