During the holiday season, giving back is a powerful theme, especially if it's something you focus on year round. Intellinet, a management-consulting and Microsoft-centric technology-services firm, is one great example. The company is committed to promoting and supporting the non-profit initiatives of individual employees, providing company-sponsored volunteer opportunities, and incorporating the act of giving into company events. Through its Intellinet Serves and Intellinet Foundation, Intellinet has supported more than 50 local, national, and global charities since its inception in 1993. "Intellinet Serves was created to fulfill our goal of servant leadership and live out the core value of Service," its mission statement reads.

Given the company's core value of service and a clear vision to serve others as its primary business goal, I was curious what impact this can have on a business. So I recently sat down with Mark Seeley, Intellinet's President and Senior Partner, to get his thoughts on the topic and identify lessons for other entrepreneurs eager to give back.

You say service is one of your core business values. Why is that?

Intellinet was founded 20 years ago with a set of core values, and service was a key part of that. We are driven by a God-given sense of stewardship, whether that's with the challenging projects we get to work on with our clients or the amazing group of people that choose to entrust us with their careers. One of the driving forces around our stewardship principle is that profitable growth is essential for the vitality of the business, but it's not the most important reason for why we exist. While our core values are leadership, accountability, passion, integrity, and service, our purpose is all around a legacy of service.

What comprises your "service" agenda?

Through our Intellinet Foundation, we focus on three main areas. The first is actual time in service to nonprofits. We encourage and sponsor team-building days at local and national charities, such as Atlanta Food Bank, Atlanta Mission, Habitat for Humanity, and others.

The second core tenet is integrating these charities into our activities. For instance, this year we chose a JDRF 5K as a quarterly service event in which we raised over $10,000 and brought out 70 people to walk to support this cause

The third is the actual giving of our profits to these charities. The Intellinet Foundation was set up at the inception of our founding for this key purpose. We have been fortunate to give over $250,000 to these charities that have benefited not only from our time but also from our profit.

How does this focus on service affect employee's happiness?

We want Intellinet to be the best place our employees have ever worked. Employees feel that they are working for more than a paycheck. These comments come from surveys that we do both externally and internally. One of our employees said it was a true blessing to work for a company that cares about others as much as we do. That dedication to service bleeds into the type of service we provide for our clients.

You mention impact being more important than money. How has that focus affected your company's financial success?

Our customers almost invariably comment on the quality of people. By having a service-based mission and purpose, it's allowed us to attract a mission-based person. Our employees value the mindset and it shows in their passionate work ethic and dedication to our clients.

How has the service-orientated focus benefited your organization in ways you would not have imagined?

By having strong core values, it has definitely allowed us to attract employees that have the same strong core values. In the consulting world, our business is all about people helping people, and our employees are the ambassadors of our brand that can unlock immense value within our clients. It makes for an amazing team of sharp, driven, and compassionate people that help us live out our motto of Promises kept.

Our founder always realized the value of a purpose-driven company, but it was reassuring to see that our employees and clients would fully embrace that purpose too of our mission of creating a legacy beyond just profit. It's attracted great people and great clients that have become longstanding friends.

What impact has your organization had on the community as a result of your service focus?

Companies like Intellinet that stand for a purpose greater than themselves can truly impact the community--not only financially and through time invested, but also through encouraging a broader group of companies to do the same. Our company started a purposeful giving program eight years ago over the holidays. So annually, instead of giving out cards, wine, or cakes to our clients, we allow our employees to select charities that are important and impactful to them. In lieu of gifts, we encourage our clients and partners to choose one of these charities from which we make a donation on their behalf. The feedback that we've gotten is that they love it and want to do it within their companies. . Many have. I get great joy out in knowing that we are helping our community, and that others are so inspired as to follow suit with similar initiatives.

Published on: Dec 3, 2014