The reason Jim Russell gives is simple
“I want to make the Quad Cities better.”
“We give with heart and purpose,” the owner and CEO of Russell, a local construction and development firm, shared. He has partnered with the Quad Cities Community Foundation to establish the Russell Foundation Endowment Fund and the Russell Non-Endowed Fund.
Russell, who started his construction company in 1983 at the age of 22, has served on multiple nonprofit and community organizations through the years and was inspired early to spread generosity in his hometown. “My family has a history in the Quad Cities dating back to the 1800s,” he said. “No matter the scale, as we’ve earned and received, we’ve given back to the community. I feel a sense of duty and responsibility. That is part of who we are as a family, and a company.”
The Community Foundation has been an efficient, smart way to give to the most promising opportunities and pressing needs of the community. “The staff make it easy,” he said. “We know we’re going to give each year, but we’re not always sure to who and when, so we’ve built a sort of giving community chest. We have structured our funds so that we can give consistently, no matter how the business or market is doing.”
Additionally, the funds are a great way to impact areas of the community that the company’s stockholders and employees feel passionate about. “We have more than 30 stockholders at Russell, and I’m sensitive to the fact that this is their money as well,” he said. “Through the Community Foundation, we can have them manage our funds and still guide who our dollars support.”
Through their corporate culture of giving back, Russell employees routinely make suggestions each year about where to give. For example, one employee recently donated a kidney, so funds were allocated to support the Iowa Donor Network. “Our funds allow us the flexibility to give where we wish to each year—and in this particular case, we elected to support the Donor Network as it personally touched a team member and their life in a big way,” he said.
The company also hosts a charitable golf outing, which raises between $25,000 and $50,000 for a different local charity each year.
Russell and his wife, Michelle, have gifted generously to other funds at the Community Foundation, including Vera French Housing Fund, Bettendorf Schools Foundation Fund, Habitat for Humanity and the Live Uncommon Fund. “We give in many different ways,” he said. “I hope that it models a behavior that gets repeated, not only by the other stockholders and employees, but by our kids as well.”
The Quad Cities is incredibly generous, Russell added, and he is proud to count himself among many corporate leaders who view philanthropy in the region as a priority. “Most leaders get it and are doing a really good job,” he said. “When you give, as a business or as a family, it benefits the entire community. Whether it’s a child abuse prevention program or Big Brother Big Sister, we should continue to ask ourselves how we can help this place we call home remain vibrant.”