Business partnership with nonprofits a plus for everyone

Published 11:58 am Sunday, May 27, 2007

When a company forms a partnership with a nonprofit agency, some call it a win-win situation.

For a recent deal made between Britton & Koontz Bank and the Natchez Children’s Home Services, the deal has been win-win-win, said Nancy Hungerford, the NCHS executive director.

That deal led to the opening of a thrift store operated by the Children’s Home at 901 N. Union St.

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The bank gets its rewards. The Children’s Home gets its benefits. But, best of all, the buying public now has a place to purchase affordable items, Hungerford said.

Page Ogden, president and CEO of the bank, said a longtime B&K officer came up with the idea of donating the property to the Children’s Home.

“We had a piece of property that we had taken over some time ago,” Ogden said. “Sandy Boyte, one of our officers, brought up the idea of giving the property to the Children’s Home.”

The fit was right, Ogden said. “It is doing good in that neighborhood,” he said.

Banks operate under the Community Reinvestment Act, which monitors how well banks take roles in community development.

The thrift store caters to people who benefit from low-cost items available in the store. The bank, then, has a role in making the community a better place.

“A better community is better for our bank,” Ogden said. “As a public company and a for-profit company, we are looking out for our shareholders, too,” he said.

The thrift store opened three weeks ago, Hungerford said. “Already we are seeing how having inexpensive items available is a service to the community,” she said.

And as sales increase at the thrift store, cash flow improves for the Children’s Home, which cares for children whose families are unable to care for them.

“When a for-sale sign went up, I inquired,” she said. “I knew we couldn’t pay more than three dollars for it, but I coveted the building.”

The Children’s Home has had regular garage sales through the years but never a place where items could be arranged properly and under cover.

“We had continued the garage sales in the heat and cold and rain,” she said. “I looked all over town for a place for a thrift store.”

Another benefit of the thrift store is creation of two new jobs. The store is open Wednesday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., with Laura Warner serving as manager, assisted by Willie Wallace.

Anyone wishing to make donations to the shop may call for pickup. “We take anything but live animals,” Hungerford said. The shop number is 601-442-5669.

Dennis Stine, an owner of Stine Lumber Co., said working with nonprofits and making a difference in a community is a part of his company’s mission.

The company’s statement says that its mission is

“to provide quality building products and services at a savings to our customers. To maintain a profit which will enable company growth and employee opportunity. To instill customer and supplier trust through sound ethical standards and community involvement.”

Both management and employees become involved in the community, Stine said.

Earlier this year, he came to Natchez to spend a day working on a Habitat for Humanity house.

“But I’m small compared to many in our company who are doing hands-on work at nonprofits on a regular basis,” he said.

Still, he sets an example, serving on boards of eight different nonprofits. “We encourage that involvement in every way,” he said. “It’s part of our message at Stine.”