Old National Bank’s Recipe for Good

By Laine Crosby

National Volunteer Week is April 23-29. ‘Tis the season for thousands of organizations across America to take the time to recognize their volunteers for their vital contributions.

It’s also the perfect occasion to check out Old National Bank, headquartered in Evansville, Indiana. This $11 billion bank has found a delicious way to marshal the power of volunteerism. Through its 100 Men Who Cook program, Old National has raised more than $4 million for 30 local charities over the course of some 40 events since 2009. And this past year, the American Bankers Association recognized this feat with the ABA Foundation Community Commitment Award for Volunteerism.

100 Men Who Cook is a dining experience, popularity contest, and charity fundraiser all in one.

As Old National’s signature fundraising event, 100 Men Who Cook, typically draws about 1,100 participants for an evening of food, entertainment, and generosity. The event relies on the volunteer efforts of bank employees, along with the collaboration of prominent community members.

During the event, 100 of the area’s most well-known men—bankers, attorneys, physicians, educators, and business leaders—retreat into their respective kitchens to concoct their favorite dish. Following an afternoon of cooking, guests arrive and the fun begins. Wearing thoughtfully crafted costumes, the chefs parade in, take their stations, and begin serving their favorite recipes to compete for the coveted title of “Top Chef.” The award is given to the chef who raises the most money for charity through tips, ticket sales, and any other creative fundraising efforts the chefs devise.

Charitable funds are also raised through ticket sales, raffles, live auctions, and cash bar—with Old National covering the cost of marketing and supplies.

When volunteerism = more than the sum of the funds raised.

The event creates awareness for the charities it serves—creating a ripple effect in the community.

When planning an event in a given market, Old National reviews the area’s critical needs in order to choose organizations that enhance the quality of life within that specific community. Priority consideration is given to programs that serve low- to moderate-income families.

Consistent with the bank’s philanthropic mission, Old National brings together influential community leaders who then become better acquainted with local charities and their causes. Awareness from these 100 participants and their organizations, coupled with publicity garnered by the event’s marketing efforts, leads to additional volunteers and donations long after the event has passed.

At a 2013 event, for example, Corey Sharp, director of Purdue Polytechnic Institute Anderson (and five-time chef) learned about the needs of the Second Harvest Food Bank. As a result, Cory joined the Second Harvest board of directors and developed an ongoing partnership with Purdue. Since then, students have developed a plan to increase efficiency in the food bank’s eight-county warehousing and logistics operation. And they’re also creating an indoor garden to provide fresh produce—such as pumpkins and flowers—to generate revenue.

Funds provided through the 100 Men Who Cook event in Owensboro, Kentucky helped keep the doors open at one of the local Boys and Girls Club facilities. In Evansville, the YWCA used the funds to provide hundreds of women with a place to live, learn, and feel safe. They also empowered at-risk girls through mentoring and educational programs. And thanks to the event, the Indiana National Guard Relief Fund is now able to continue helping families as they bring on a staff member to manage donor support development.

Other benefiting organizations include the Tri-State Foodbank in Evansville, the Weekend Backpack Food for Kids Program, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Elkhart, Gilda’s Club, Albion Fellows Bacon Center, and the Ark Crisis Child Care Center.

Join the movement.

National Volunteer Week is rooted in a Canadian observance that recognized the contributions of women during World War II. Established in the U.S. in 1974, the program continues as an initiative of the Corporation for National and Community Service, managed in partnership with Points of Light.

The stories generated during National Volunteer Week inspire others to take action that creates change. And studies show that in addition to benefitting society, people who volunteer enjoy lower blood pressure, an increased sense of belonging, and a longer life. To explore new ways employees at your bank can volunteer in the community, you might start by visiting serve.gov for a list of certified charitable organizations.

ABA recognizes and promotes the many valuable ways banks of all sizes and charters contribute to economic growth, community development and overall well-being.

If your bank is interested in entering the 2017 ABA Foundation Community Commitment Awards, now is the time. The entry period opens May 1, and submissions must be received by June 30.

Laine Crosby is a marketing and financial services writer, a New York Times bestselling author, and editor of ABA Bank Compliance magazine. Email: [email protected].