Spicing Up Corporate Philanthropy

Written by: Fargo Inc Staff

Roers and Keller Williams have the recipe for success.

BY Kristi Huber, United Way of Cass-Clay President & CEO

Photos by 5Foot20 Design Lounge


Employees that are engaged, satisfied and happy with the company, are more motivated, which helps serve customers with more enthusiasm. According to Gallup, companies that have happier employees show 147 percent higher earnings per share than their competitors. And the source of satisfaction for many employees is often the opportunity to serve their community, give back and see how their time and talents make a difference for people in need.

The History Behind the Chili

What started as an idea for a company potluck has now grown into something much larger that has impacted thousands of people.

Ten years ago, two team members planned a small chili feed to benefit an organization helping homelessness in our community that a Keller Williams agent was very involved in. Two crockpots of chili in the breakroom, a bowl full of crackers and three bags of cheese later, the concept of the Roers Keller Williams Chili Feed was officially born.

United Way serves Chili

The Chili Feed has grown into a community-wide event coordinated by a volunteer-led committee that has raised $215,000 for United Way of Cass-Clay over the past decade. The event allows community members and businesses that may not otherwise be involved with United Way, an opportunity to get their employees engaged by being a sponsor, cooking up a chili or donating prizes. The goal for the 10th annual event is to raise $50,000, which will be strategically invested in United Way’s Bold Community Goals to reduce hunger and homelessness, prepare children to succeed, help people be independent, and lift people out of poverty. The effort and generosity of those involved directly impacts the lives of individuals, families and children in need in our local community.

Beyond the Chili and Fixings

The initial ingredient of this employee engagement effort is the desire to make an impact in the community. “Community: give back and give often” is a core value that Roers team members embrace. “It comes naturally to get involved in the community for Roers and Keller Williams team members. We want what is best for the community, and our employees truly care. Just as this event has evolved, our commitment to giving back to the community has strengthened. This event brings so many together for a common purpose: to create a better tomorrow for everyone,” said Jim Roers, CEO of Roers Companies.

Being involved in the community is nothing new to Roers, it has been a part of the culture since the company began over 40 years ago. Philanthropy and volunteerism make the Chili Feed thrive, but it is truly a community- led event. Ten years of continuous growth doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a team effort to make it happen, and companies that support the cause.

Research conducted for Fortune’s 2018’s 50 Best Workplaces for Giving Back revealed an important relationship between the way employees feel about their company’s community involvement and their commitment to their work. Among the 357,000 people surveyed, those who had a positive experience of giving back at work were four times more likely to say their teams were willing to give extra to get their jobs done. They were also more likely to be brand ambassadors eager to express pride in their employers, and they chose to stay with their companies for a long time.

United Way serves chili

The Roers and Keller Williams employees lead the event, but it takes a lot of cooks in the kitchen to make it all come together. Bremer Bank has been a longtime supporter and major sponsor for the event, and more than 30 volunteers are on-site for the day with over 1,000 people attending each year. It truly is a community- led and supported event.

“Each year, we continue to grow the event and make it bigger and better. From something that started in our break room to two separate companies working together to raise $45,000 and a thousand people attending each year, we have seen amazing progress. This event allows us to raise more money each year for United Way, all while having a lot of fun. Now that’s a win-win!” said Anne Kallhoff, Realtor with Keller Williams Inspire Realty.

Cook and Compete. Or Just Come and Eat.

Each year, 50 organizations and community members craft roasters of chili and serve them during the event. There’s something on the menu for everyone, and it’s not just traditional chili. Non-traditional flavors such as white chicken chili, elk chili and chocolate chili are just some of the creative recipes that have won the coveted top prizes in past years. Attendees vote for a favorite chili, and the winners receive a prize basket and bragging rights for “the best chili in town” for the year. The excitement of this event is contagious. “The chili chefs bring such an enthusing energy. It’s fun to watch the friendly competition and to know that we are all making an impact on our community,” said Danielle Paulus, Director for Roers Companies.

The event is more than a fun lunch break with some tasty food. The passion for giving back translates to lasting change for people in need in Cass and Clay counties. All proceeds from the event are invested to support United Way’s BOLD Community Goals to ensure that children aren’t hungry, students have access to mental health counseling services at their schools, and individuals have the skills training and support they need to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty and land a job that can support themselves and their families. These positive changes have ripple effects within the companies whose employees are involved and the overall economic success of our community. This is the Power of Community. Realized.

Join them for lunch at the Roers Shop, 4402 2nd Ave S, Fargo, from 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m. September 24. Learn more at chilifeedfargo.com.

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