Help for Children: Hedge Funds Helping the Community

Investing

by Lindsay Meredith

After the damning events of the 2008 economic meltdown, people are more skeptical than ever before of the financial industry’s ethical compass. It’s hard for many to believe that companies that pop up in the news on a regular basis for breaches of moral conduct are capable of seeking to give back to their local communities.

However, the misconception that the financial industry is heartless and cold is just that: a misconception. Many financial firms have a robust philanthropic presence, and one such charity is Help for Children. This organization, supported primarily by hedge funds, has raised millions of dollars for the prevention of child abuse.

Background

Hedge Funds Care (HFC) was founded in New York 1998 by Rob Davis, a managing director at McAlinden Research Partners. Davis’s goal was to create a charity that would use the skills and experience of hedge fund managers to raise money, money which would then be distributed to other, top-tier charities that support children who have been abused. In the fifteen years since its founding, Help for Children (formerly Hedge Funds Care) has raised over $33 million for its grantee organizations and has branched out well beyond New York to other major cities such as Atlanta, San Francisco, and Boston.

Today, major players in the financial industry sit on the board of directors of HFC. For example, the president of the charity is Dean Backer of Goldman Sachs and the vice president is Robert Schultz of Greentech Capital Advisors. These financial professionals utilize their skills to raise the funds necessary to carry out the charity’s mission: supporting local organizations that seek to mitigate the devastation caused by child abuse through education, prevention, intervention, and advocacy.

Support from the Hedge Fund Industry

Because of the growth it has seen in the years since its inception, HFC has franchised its fundraising efforts to local hedge funds. Each region of the U.S. has its own leadership team and task force, which organizes events and raises funds for the area it represents. The leaders and members of these regional franchises represent some of the preeminent hedge funds in their geographic area and top financial institutions.

For example, the 2013 West Coast branch of HFC, known as the Committee of Hope, is chaired by Katie Kowinski of Pacific View Asset Management and Lisa Olsen of Goldman Sachs. Pacific Asset View Management is a growing institutional asset management firm based in San Francisco, which has been very supportive of Help for Children. Goldman Sachs has also been a key backer of HFC, with involvement in many of the cities in which the charity is active.

Ernst and Young has also played a key role in the growth and success of HFC. Like Goldman Sachs, Ernst and Young has offices all over the U.S., and many of the firm’s leaders are actively involved in the charity. For example, the Midwest chapter of HFC is co-chaired by Benji Wolken of Ernst and Young and recently raised $650,000 at the chapter’s spring gala in Chicago.

In short, HFC is supported by hedge funds and financial institutions from all over the nation which seek to better their local communities through the charity’s fundraising efforts and events.

Getting Involved

If you’re interested in getting involved with HFC, there are a number of ways to do so. Aside from making a donation or attending an event, the charity is always accepting volunteers and new members to its committees. For more specifics about contributing to the organization, check out their Become a Supporter page, located here.

Updates and Upcoming Events

2013 has been a successful year for HFC. The change of the charity’s name to ‘Help for Children’ has helped it expand further and gain the attention of more local child abuse prevention organizations. So far, the charity has raised $3.5 million at events in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, London, New York, San Francisco, and Twin Cities and has been able to distribute $3.2 million in funds to 91 local organizations.

The West Coast chapter of Help for Children will be hosting its 6th annual SoCal Open Your Heart to the Children Benefit on Thursday, September 19th  in Los Angeles. This fundraiser, hosted by The Peterson Automotive Musuem, costs $600 per attendee; if you’re interested in participating, you can register here.

Hedge funds from all over the country are supporting their communities through the efforts of Help for Children – consider getting involved with your local chapter today!