How Publix Fosters A Philanthropic Community, According To This United Way Campaign Leader
When George Jenkins founded Publix Super Markets in 1930, he wasn’t just aiming to create a retailer that would develop a loyal following for its cleanliness, friendliness, and submarine sandwiches (“pub subs” for the truly obsessed). He believed in giving back to communities and built the business around his core values which included giving back, investing in others, respecting the dignity of the individual, and more.
Those values are just as evident in Publix Super Markets’ culture today as they were 89 years ago and proof of that is in their commitment to their annual United Way fundraising campaign, which was recently announced as the top United Way fundraising campaign in the world despite being present in only 7 states nationally!
Hannah Glochick knows this well because when she’s not supporting customers through her role as Customer Service Manager at one of Publix’s Cary location, she’s leading the company’s annual United Way campaign and is a dedicated champion of our mission to eradicate poverty and increase social mobility in the Greater Triangle.
In celebration of the company’s annual Publix Associate Appreciation Week (February 24-28), we spoke with Hannah about her commitment to fundraising, Publix’s innate culture of philanthropy, and her biggest dream for the Greater Triangle.
1. Why would you say that Publix is passionate about giving back to local communities?
Publix is the largest employee-owned company in the U.S. and it all started when our founder, George Jenkins, basically gave the company back to his employees with stock ownership. Since then, giving has always been a big part of our culture.
George himself was very involved in charity work. Publix Charities, which matches associate giving to United Way every year, was actually started from the estate of Mr. George, so no part of that directly comes from our profits.
Underlying all of that is the understanding that we are a people business and relationships are what make us strong. You can’t have a successful business in an unhealthy community, and that’s why it’s important to give locally.
2. What is your favorite part about leading Publix’s United Way campaign?
My favorite part is talking about United Way and sharing Publix’s culture. I appreciate how much time, effort, and money Publix dedicates to our campaign. It is an absolute priority for every member of leadership and management during that [fundraising] week. It takes a lot of planning and coordination to talk to every single associate, but that’s the expectation. I love working for that kind of company.
3. What’s your strategy for encouraging employee giving in support of the United Way campaign?
I really love that United Way’s philosophy is about partnerships and long-term solutions. People usually want to give in some manner but it’s hard to know how to do it most effectively. And when you think about helping an individual or solving a social problem, there are so many layers that it can be overwhelming. United Way’s whole mission is to tackle these issues for us.
During campaigns, I talk about this in small groups to explain why they should consider United Way as opposed to other organizations. I also talk in general about using our money for empowerment. Who do you want to empower? Starbucks? Disney? In a lot of ways, we vote with our dollars these days.
Part of why I contribute is that I want nonprofits to have just as much social influence and resources as Hollywood, for example. United Way is a living, breathing organization and it requires money (and volunteers!) to take risks, innovate, research, and evaluate solutions over time, measure success, etc. to really make a difference.
Finally, I try to be an advocate during the entire year and get people involved in volunteering, so they can physically see the work that’s being done by all the different local agencies that United Way supports. Transparency is a huge concern with any sort of giving and this helps build trust. I try to see our campaign as an ongoing process, and we just happen to collect pledges in September haha!
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4. Which of United Way’s focus areas are you most passionate about?
I don’t necessarily have a preference, because I think all of them are definitely linked. I would say I’m most passionate about the philosophy of “Living United.”
5. What other topics are you passionate about?
Leadership, in general, is something in my career at Publix that I find endlessly challenging and rewarding. I am fortunate enough to work for a company that values my creativity and individuality. I love finding different ways to invest in people, help them achieve personal goals, work together as a team, and have the freedom to learn from mistakes. You wouldn’t think a grocery store could encompass all of that but there are so many moving parts and our success is based entirely on people. It all really comes down to how we lead ourselves and each other.
6. Do you participate in any philanthropic giving or volunteering outside of United Way? Tell us more about it
I volunteer with many different organizations, most of which are affiliated with United Way. One organization I do enjoy following though is Lotta Love. It’s an entirely local group that redecorates/paints/transforms spaces in the Raleigh/Triangle area such as homeless shelters, women’s centers, etc. I’ve done a few projects with them and it really makes a difference.
Imagine being a teen in a crisis situation, for example, and seeking help at the Wrenn House in Raleigh but your room feels like a prison cell. There are so many important issues to address for that young person but something important that can be overlooked is just the warmth and psychological comfort that a space can offer. If that room, instead, has bright curtains, a cozy rug, and a happy painting on the wall, it can totally change your starting place when you wake up in the morning.
7. What’s your biggest dream for the Greater Triangle? How would you like to be a part of it?
I can’t believe how poorly Raleigh performs with ‘social mobility.’ I heard [United Way of the Greater Triangle’s President and CEO] talk about that during last year’s campaign and it’s shocking considering how many brilliant people live and work here! My biggest dream would be figuring out how to harness all the innovation and resources we have to solve that problem.
I love being in a position to help. As a leader for a company that’s growing in this area, and actively building a culture of giving, we are able to literally provide jobs and participate in teamwork with the community. I think people underestimate how much Publix is ready to commit to all of that.