PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Giving back to others and being involved in the community has always been a priority for David Chirico, a sales associate with Illustrated Properties in Palm Beach Gardens. “I volunteered with the Sons of Italy and with my church, but I always thought I had to be rich to give back in big ways,” he says.
However, when the market crashed, Chirico had an epiphany. After all, he says, people were looking for jobs, charities were looking for money and restaurants were desperate for business. Thus was born Networking to Help Children, a monthly event organized by Chirico that offers networking opportunities to those who attend and donations to local charities.
“I only pick local charities that give at least a minimum of 70 to 80 percent of their donations back to the cause,” he says.
Networking for Charity
It works like this: Chirico picks a well-known or highly desirable restaurant and asks them to donate appetizers and the space. Then, he charges $10 to each attendee, of which 100 percent goes to the charity of the month. It costs Chirico about $200 a month for the events, and he doesn’t get reimbursed for that money.
The first event at Spoto’s Oyster Bar, held in 2009, attracted only 40 people. Now, he averages about 70 to 80 people a month. “I have the biggest events in the summer. The one I had in August attracted 110 people,” he says. “Two years ago, I had an event at Seasons 52 and 170 people showed up.”
While Chirico encourages the attendees to network with each other, he does not do any personal networking at the events.
“This is all about the charity,” he says. “I have other networking events specifically for my business.” But, Chirico says, even though the goal is to help charities, he also constantly gets handed resumes from those looking for a job. He says he does what he can to help there, too. “For every 10 resumes I get, I find at least four people a job.” And, the featured charity gets a nice check each month.
Since May 2009, Chirico’s events have raised $72,573 for various local charities. The charities benefit in other ways as well.
He recalls, “One organization called Ally’s Alliance was started by a man who lost his wife to cancer. He got a lot of support from my organization. His charity has grown since then.” In addition, the charities find new volunteers through the events.
Chirico promotes the event via email blasts to his 3,000-person database, exclusively used for the charity events only. “I never send out business emails to this database. This is only for the charity networking events. And, I use MailChimp, so people can unsubscribe if they wish.”
He also posts invitations and announcements to social media and encourages others to share the message. His fliers are simple and to the point. “I list the venue, the charity and a link to my website that has the information on it.”
Eventually, Chirico hopes to make Networking to Help Children an official 501C3 charitable organization and go national.
“Since I do no personal promotion, people know this is from the heart. I’ve had couples meet, made business connections and helped raise awareness and money for local charities. It’s about friendships as well,” he says.
The best part about what he does, Chirico says, is that it makes the community stronger. “You’re doing things to give back and it gets the whole community in the right mindset. I’m creating a good synergy.”