Austin Gives With JHL Company

When it comes to mixing business with philanthropy, JHL Company is well versed in the practice.

By April Cumming

For Jennifer Stevens, founder and CEO of JHL Company, giving back to the community is simply a good business practice.

A public affairs, communications and events company located just a few streets east of the Texas State Capitol, JHL Company practices the art of mixing business with philanthropy. While the small 11-staff-member-strong company puts on a lot of private parties for prominent people in Austin (Does the name Drew Brees ring a bell?), JHL Company is probably best known for its fundraising work for the Mack, Jack & McConaughey event that takes place every April. A two-day event, MJ&M hosts two golf tournaments, two concerts, a fashion show and a lot of after-parties. It takes the company nine months to organize and execute.

“It’s a ton of fun and a ton of work,” Stevens says of the fundraising event. In the three years that JHL has managed the MJ&M event, it has also helped MJ&M put $3.5 million back into local Austin charities. “We’re always working, in one way or another, on some sort of philanthropic project.”

And JHL is a company focused on practicing what it preaches.

“We wouldn’t ask our clients or people we’re trying to get involved in our events as fundraisers to do something that we don’t do,” says Sydney Loyed, an account manager for JHL.

Loyed says it’s rewarding to work for a company at which workers volunteer together and prioritize their team camaraderie.

For Vice President Jessica Bennett, it’s empowering to have giving back to the community as part of her work obligation.

“This office is led by really powerful women, and there’s a sense of gratitude that comes along with what we’re able to do as part of our work,” Bennett says.

The way Stevens sees it, doing good for the community is beneficial for employee moral and team building, but it’s also good for attracting other businesses to Austin.

“Nobody wants to move their company headquarters to a place where no one is contributing and taking care of each other,” she says.

Giving back is also good marketing, she notes, adding that people want to do business with people they know.

“That doesn’t mean they have to know you exactly,” she says, “but if they know about you, that you’re engaged, they feel that they know you.”

To an outsider looking in, shutting down the office for a day might seem like an easy thing to do, but it’s not for a small company like JHL.

“It’s easy when you’re Google and you’ve got a bunch of dudes feeding you whether you’re there or not. When we’re closed for half a day, it’s a huge financial and time commitment,” Stevens says. “But it’s always paid off. It’s always been returned.”

From running as a team in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, to wrapping presents for Foster Angels of Central Texas, to spending an afternoon at the Capital Area Food Bank and lending a hand at Caritas, when the JHL team isn’t busy setting up a fundraising event, you can more than likely find them volunteering or taking part in one.

“We use it as our team-building time,” Stevens says of volunteering together. “It’s the only way I would run the business. I always say that I only started the business because I wanted to work around people I like and respect and to do things that I enjoy doing. And I enjoy being involved in the community. It’s a fundamental part of who I am, so it’s a fundamental part of who my business is.”

 

JHL & CACTX

Two years ago, JHL Company created a committee called Women of Courage, a statewide group of women that gives $1,000 a year to the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas. Those funds go toward helping centers throughout the state transform places of abuse back into safe places for kids.

“After a child goes through the CACTX system, oftentimes, the offending adult is removed from the home, but the child returns,” JHL Company Founder and CEO Jennifer Stevens explains. “So the child is returning back to that same space [where the abuse took place].”

Discontent with the idea, the Women of Courage committee created a makeover fund to replace items in the child’s home—curtains, pillows, a new teddy bear—with the goal of making that space feel different and safer. So far, the Women of Courage have put approximately $150,000 into room makeovers.

“We’ll do whatever it takes to transform that space to be comfortable for the kids again,” Stevens says.

cactx.org/women-of-courage

 

More on MJ&M

Funds raised through this year’s Mack, Jack & McConaughey charity event (April 14 through 16), for which JHL Company helps fundraise,  will support CureDuchenne, Dell Children’s Hospital, HeartGift, just keep livin Foundation and The Rise School of Austin.

mackjackmcconaughey.org

 

Austin Gives

JHL Company is a member of Austin Gives, an organization dedicated to highlighting businesses for doing good. In its four-year existence, Austin Gives has aggregated almost 400 Austin-area companies that have made the commitment to donate at least 1 percent of their annual earnings to charity. To learn more about Austin Gives, visit austin.gives. 

 

Tune In

Austin Gives talks with Austin Woman Publisher Melinda Garvey and JHL Company Founder and CEO Jennifer Stevens about the importance of giving in Austin.

When: Jan. 12, 9 a.m.

Station: KEYE

Segment: We Are Austin

Website: keyetv.com/features/we-are-austin

 

Photos courtesy of JHL Company.


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