Profiles of Impact: Russell Construction builds the community through corporate philanthropy


Jim Russell was surprised by a statistic his staff discovered recently. In the 28 years since Russell Construction has been in business, the company has given more than $1 million to charitable and civic causes. 

Russell Construction has made an innovative mark on the Quad Cities and the region through the design and construction of some of the most prominent commercial buildings of the past three decades. But Jim, the principal owner, looks ahead and wants to build a permanent legacy for the community that has given the company success. 

“We build the community through construction,” Jim says, “and through corporate philanthropy, we are able to give back.”

Short and Long-Term Goals

Russell Construction started two funds at our Community Foundation. One is the Russell Foundation Endowment – a Corporate Foundation Fund that Jim and his employees will build over ten years. Once complete, the endowment will award grants to nonprofits every year in perpetuity.

The second fund is the Russell Foundation Fund -- a Charitable Giving Fund which is totally spendable (non-endowed) and will be used to make grants during the ten years that the endowment is growing.

“This is a cyclical, boom and bust business,” Jim says. “We’ll have several great years, then a flat year, then a couple of mediocre years, then a great year. An endowment helps us create a longer-term, accumulating ‘bucket’ from which to give. That way, our giving can continue even when it doesn’t make sense during one particular year. It’s a leveling, long-term giving strategy.”

Personal Giving

Jim and his wife, Michelle, also have a personal giving history with the Community Foundation. They are interested in a wide variety of causes in the community. They have also recently started a nonprofit entitled “Live Uncommon” to champion a balanced life while striving for excellence. As Russell Construction builds its own funds, Jim says employees will have input into where grants are directed.

He sees the Community Foundation as a more personal way to give. As he talks, he laughs and says, “I’ve always seen Russell Construction as a person.” 

If Russell Construction is a person, it’s living a three-dimensional life at an early age. And with a foundation built on this type of philanthropy, it’s likely to return wonderful things to the people of this area for generations.

Click here to learn more about starting your own fund at the Community Foundation.

Melanie JonesDonors