Our Stories

Leading by Example: The Generosity of Porter Steel through a DAF

“Our mission as a business is to change lives and lead by example – and that has nothing to do with steel.” 

Cole Porter, CEO of Porter Steel has been a donor advised fundholder with the Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia for the past couple of years. Although he leads a for-profit corporation, his heart is that of a nonprofit CEO – passionate, generous and authentic. Cole’s ultimate goal is to give back to the communities that he’s done business in, and he accomplishes this through his donor advised fund. 

“Because we have the opportunity to go into these communities and make money for our business there, I want to make sure we leave those communities better than how we found them,” said Cole, “We want to give back to the areas that have supported our business. We want to make a life-changing difference.” 

How do Cole and his team do this? 

Through finding nonprofit organizations that are similar to their business to support. For example, after Porter Steel finished a contract building a women’s hospital, they contributed to a pregnancy resource center nearby, and once they completed a hotel, they gave to local organizations combating homelessness. 

Cole’s Donor Advised Fund allows Porter Steel to benefit multiple nonprofits and to not be pigeonholed into supporting one type of cause. DAFs through the Community Foundation offer a more economical way to make charitable contributions than starting a company foundation. The fund also grows tax free as the business grows which offers Porter Steel the ability to make charitable contributions before they’ve decided where to give. 

“There’s no pressure to find someone to give to each month and know exactly where we want our contributions to go all the time. I can still follow the principle of giving each month, but I know that our contributions are going to grow over time. The fund can just keep building and building. This is a really great model that can help you further your impact in the long run,” said Cole. 

Opening a Donor Advised Fund has also changed Cole’s outlook of giving publicly. 

“When you grow up in church, you have this mentality that giving is just between you and God. As I’ve matured, I’ve realized that giving to the Lord should be this way, but there are immense blessings when you give publicly, in a humble way,” said Cole. 

“The Stricklands [fellow fundholders at the Community Foundation], taught me that giving publicly encourages others to make an impact and can really increase the amount of giving and change in the community.” 

Cole made a commitment to practice this principle not only as an individual but through his company, too. Porter Steel contributes a set amount to its Donor Advised Fund every month, regardless of company performance, and if the company exceeds their financial goals, they respond by giving more. 

“It’s a stewardship thing. We could have lost a lot of money, but we’re still going to give the same amount, and if we do exceptionally well, we’re going to give a portion of that profit too. It’s good to be generous. It’s good to have compassion for others,” said Cole. 

Generosity doesn’t come without sacrifice, but for Cole and Porter Steel, their drive is beyond revenue. 

“I want to teach my kids that there is a lot of value in sacrificial giving. We’ve set aside a lot of money for our DAF, money that could have gone back to my family or gone to something else in the company, but one of the ways we can accomplish our mission of changing lives is by helping others financially. And, we can do this through leading by example, the other part of our mission statement,” said Cole.

“That’s why we tell people what we’re doing. This is a good thing for businesses to do, and if every business did this, our communities would need a lot less assistance.”

By sharing their story and encouraging others to follow suit, Cole and Porter Steel are not only changing lives but also paving the way for a more compassionate and generous society.

Want to learn more about opening your own Donor Advised Fund? Please reach out to our Development Officer, Maria at mwalden@cfneg.org.