By Ruby Cimmarusti

Passionate. Invested. Tenacious. Authentic. All of these qualities are commonalities that tie together the people of AMEND, written into the values of the company. Anyone could recognize these qualities just by coming into the office and interacting with the people that make up the AMEND team. However, another common quality you’d quickly discover is philanthropic. A significant number of AMEND employees play a meaningful role in one or more nonprofit organizations in Cincinnati, with a wide range of missions and causes. Together, the entire AMEND team has created a culture of giving.

So how does a small company have such a large number of employees who are willing to put their time and talents into improving the community around them? Where does all of this generosity come from?

It’s Organic.

Brett Santoferraro, Director at AMEND, has been with the company for four years, and he attributes the culture of giving to the employee recruitment process. “Part of our business slogan is ‘changing lives, transforming businesses,’” said Santoferraro. “We hire people based on their personal values just as much as we do on their technical skills and aptitude. As a result of that, our team members are naturally looking for ways to give back.” 

Santoferraro joined the AMEND team full-time in 2015, and it didn’t take him long to start making an impact. He reached out to Dave Phillips, who sat on AMEND’s board. Phillips and his wife, Liane, founded the organization Cincinnati Works in 1996, and since then, it has grown tremendously. The vision of the organization is to lead the effort in eliminating poverty in the community, and they do that by providing workforce connections, job placement, job readiness and financial literacy training to people who may not have the resources to find and keep employment. 

Santoferraro began volunteering with Cincinnati Works in January of 2017, and by the end of the year, became a member of the Young Professionals Board within the organization. He assists in planning events, holding mock interviews for members, and leading fundraising efforts. When asked where he thinks this spirit of generosity came from, he answered for the entirety of AMEND: “I think it’s organic, that it naturally comes out of the team. Because again, none of this is mandatory, right? It’s always optional, it’s always on people’s free time. So I would say that it’s just who we are, it’s who we hire. It’s the type of people who make up our team.”

It’s Instilled.

Other employees believe that the culture of giving is purposefully established in the company. Paul Bessire, VP Analytics at AMEND, considers the partners of the company to be the biggest drivers of this. When Bessire joined the team in 2017, he had already been very involved with the Ohio Valley Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, an organization that works to further MS research and offer resources and support to those suffering from MS. Since 2014, he had been a member of the organization’s leadership class, joined the board of trustees, and most recently, was elected as the chapter’s vice chair. Bessire recalled, “I wasn’t even full-time at AMEND yet, and the first thing I heard from the partners when I said I was a part of the MS Society was, ‘How can we get involved?’” 

That year, the company’s partners purchased a table at the society’s annual Dinner of Champions fundraiser, which was only the first step of AMEND’s involvement with the MS Society. Now, as a way to honor someone’s involvement and commitment, AMEND nominates one team member for the MS Society’s leadership class every year. Bessire concluded, “I feel like there’s a tangible energy in this organization around changing lives for the better, giving back, and using our inherent skills to help people. And that is at the core of the culture that led me to want to be a part of AMEND.” 

It’s a Little Bit of Both.

Craig Todd, CEO and co-founder of AMEND Consulting, was able to give a bit of background and insight into the culture that has been achieved within AMEND’s team. Thinking back to when the company was founded 14 years ago, Todd said, “Giving back was always a big thing that we wanted to do. Even before we added any other partners, David Velie and I were giving 6% of our top-line revenue to charity. Things changed as we added more and more to the team. We wanted to encourage the right behavior, and that’s when we added the 3 to 1 match program.” Beginning in 2015, for every donation that an employee gave to an organization of their choice, AMEND contributed three times the original amount to the donation. As the company grows, the importance of philanthropy and giving back also grows and remains just as much of a priority. “The impact doesn’t flatline, it’s growing with us. And while that encourages charitable giving,” Todd continued, “I also believe it’s the type of people that AMEND employees are to begin with: incredibly giving. It’s never a surprise how giving our team is. I’m incredibly proud of the phenomenal people we have in our AMEND family.”