Volunteer Alexandria -Business Can Be a Force for Good

How people contribute to the community, to customers, and to employees are today’s modern criteria. In fact, the contribution to fellow Americans is more important than ever.

By Marion Brunken, Executive Director

Alexandria, VA – “Community is good to you and it is important to give back to the community,” says John Renner, Renner and Company, CPA.

John shares my belief that success is not defined by how much money you make. How we contribute to our community, our customers, and our employees are today’s modern criteria. In fact, the Business Roundtable just announced a new definition of the purpose of today’s corporations, that the purpose of business is to serve all Americans.

John’s wife, Joan Renner, adds that building a strong community is like making soup. It takes many ingredients and everyone contributes something unique to make it better. “As an accounting firm with over 30 employees, we have many talents to add to the success of an organization,” says Joan.

John and Joan are longstanding Alexandria community leaders. They both started volunteering as young adults. Joan taught dance to young people at a little school that used to be on W. Windsor Avenue. She said it was a good experience for her as well as for the students. John started in the 1970s with the Northern Chapter of the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants.

The Renners are Living Legends and still support many agencies by serving on boards. John recently completed two terms as president of the NoVa Community College Foundation, where he helped make higher education more accessible. He has also chaired the board of Ivy Hill Cemetery where he worked with fellow board members to enhance the sustainability of the organization. Last year, John spearheaded creation of the Rotary Club of Alexandria Central with a core group of founders and served as the Club’s first president.

Both John and Joan have served as chair of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, promoting Alexandria business. They are possibly the only married couple to have both served in that capacity. Through her service on the Board of Goodwin House Foundation, Joan helps uplift the lives of older adults. As chair of the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria, she helped T.C. Williams High School students go to college and helped support the community through fellowship as president of the Rotary Club of Alexandria.

Today, the Renners believe that giving back and being involved in the community is a great benefit to their company. Employees are encouraged to be involved with organizations and causes. Every year, the firm participates in Volunteer Alexandria’s Volunteer Day. This year, five members of Renner and Company, along with family and friends, participated in the activities of the Rotary Club of Alexandria Central. They helped the club make 15 grants to local charities that help youth and individuals with special needs. The firm encourages and supports the community involvement of its entire staff.

As a result of engagement, John and Joan have seen the company thrive. The firm receives a lot of their clients because people know them in the community. Staff involvement has many benefits to the company, including marketing, strengthening the firm’s reputation, and developing staff professionally. Staff members spend time communicating with nonprofit leaders to learn about the issues Alexandria is facing. With their strong accounting backgrounds, they are often asked to apply critical thinking and business logic to these issues.

“When serving on nonprofit boards and committees, they contribute to their own professional growth as well. They are able to broaden their experience, learn from others with diverse perspectives, and apply their unique gifts and talents,” says Joan.

Socially responsible businesses are leading the way in 21st century business enterprise (Deloitte’s 2019 Report). This philosophy aligns personal and company values, redefining success as achieving both monetary growth and community impact.

If that describes your business, and you want to match your passions with the right community cause, you can turn to Volunteer Alexandria for help. We enable businesses to address pressing needs by engaging their employees in community service. Through the Business Connection program, we offer employees and members opportunities to actively engage in community life, to participate in teambuilding projects, and to gain expertise that increases skills, while aligning the company’s mission and goals with community service.

Joan Renner reminds us that we should “never underestimate our unique talents. It’s our job to share our gifts with the world!”

For questions, email me at mbrunken@volunteeralexandria.org. Visit www.VolunteerAlexandria.org/businesses.

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