For partners at Putnam Investments Inc., Boston, giving is serious business.
The 3-year-old Putnam Investments Senior Executives Foundation, which awarded $2 million in grants to four greater Boston organizations this year, looks at charitable giving the same way it does investing.
Brett Browchuk, managing director at Putnam and head of the foundation's grant selection committee, said the foundation looks for organizations that have strong boards, good track records, clear business plans and specific ideas for the grants. Members of the selection committee even go out and visit the sites to "kick the tires" so to speak, on each of their investments, said Mr. Browchuk.
With assistance from The Philanthropic Institute, the foundation primarily focuses on making grants to community organizations in Boston that help children, families and the homeless.
This year, grants went to Mother Caroline Academy and Education Center, a school for girls of limited financial means, to build a gymnasium; the Pine Street Inn, a homeless shelter, to build housing for six previously homeless families; Project Hope, a food pantry and homeless shelter, to construct a new education facility; and Victory Generation, an after-school program that operates out of church basements, to expand to 12 sites from seven.
"We try to pick organizations with specific projects that probably wouldn't get done otherwise," said Mr. Browchuk.
For each grant that is made, one of the 39 top-ranking Putnam officials who fund the foundation acts as a liaison to the selected organization. Mr. Browchuk, who was the liaison for the 1999 grant to the Horizons Initiative, now serves on that organization's board. That way, he said, it's much more of a partnership than a one-time gift. The foundation given $4 million over its three-year history.
"Putnam has returned a lot of things to shareholders who invest in Putnam funds," said Mr. Browchuk. "We thought this would be a really good way of helping communities directly."