others is a real art. Sometimes I think it's actually a lost
art, which makes State Bank & Trust's recent giving even more
special. Their actions are a breath of fresh air.
The bank created a $502,000 "Pay it
Forward" initiative, in which they gave the employees of the
company's 14 banks in North Dakota and Minnesota a very special
bonus this year. Full time employees received $1,000 and
part-time employees received $500 as a year-end bonus. The bonus
came with a catch though: The employee gets it, but can't keep
it. Bank employees were given orders to use the money for people
in need. They were told to give it to an individual cause, a
larger project, or collaborate with donors outside the bank to
maximize the donation.
Bank employees were asked to
document the good deed with a video camera the bank gave them to
keep - another act of giving by the bank. Workers also got their
usual year-end bonuses of about 4.5% of their annual salaries -
money that they can keep.
A compilation of videos of bank employees' generosity will be
shown at next year's party. That will be the final icing on the
cake in the lesson of giving and the absolute joy it brings.
State Bank & Trust is a real example for the rest of the
corporate world as well as for every individual who will be
inspired by their story and pass on some good deed.
Mr. Solberg, President of State Bank
& Trust said, "We're going to really see some huge impact on our
I must tell you that I think that the impact will be more far
reaching than Mr. Solberg can imagine. The joy of giving is one
that is incomparable, immeasurable and can't be duplicated. Each
person that gives will be encouraged to give more, and as so
often happens, those who get will be encouraged to pass the
giving "bug" on.
Even reading about what the employees of the bank are deciding
to do with the money is a lesson in giving and caring. Their
choices are most impressive. Among them are: cancer research;
friends who recently lost three of the quadruplets they were
expecting; towards a new home for a child care center, which
serves low-income families and children with behavior disorders.
State Bank & Trust employees have
been quoted as saying that the bank has a culture of giving.
What the bank has done is to take the art of giving and bring it
to a totally new level. Giving charity is one level, giving
others the opportunity to give is another.
As the Mishnah tells us that he who gives charity and inspires
others to give is saintly.
State Bank & Trust is truly an inspiration for all of us.