The team at Tanner Mainstain is well aware of the multitude of benefits generated by philanthropic giving, from the help it brings to people in need, to the tax write-off it provides the donor. But while they make more than their share of charitable donations, they like to take it a step further and lend their expertise to the operation of nonprofits.
“Giving is in many ways a lot easier. You write a check and you’re done,” says Tanner Mainstain co-founder Peter Mainstain. “But serving on a board or other activities in a charity are much more rewarding. And actually serving in charity doesn’t exempt you from giving. If anything, it increases the expectation.”
Mainstain’s fellow co-founder, Bill Tanner, serves as the chairman of the audit committee for the Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation, while Mainstain has been involved with L.A.-based charity the Water Buffalo Club for more than two decades and recently wrapped a 20-year stint serving on the board of the Arthritis Foundation, Pacific Region, the past two years as its chair.
“I’ve seen charity work from both perspectives, from the big nationals to the very focused local board,” says Mainstain, who also did a short stint on the board of the City of Hope. “With the Water Buffalo Club, it was strictly needy children in L.A. County. We donated school supplies, buses, microscopes, computers, and so on.”
Charities tend to pick Tanner Mainstain employees for finance-related committees. For example, tax manager David Coronel sits on the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County’s Professional Advisors Council, which provides charitable gift planning services.
Tanner Mainstain also facilitates its employees’ work with nonprofits. Administrator Tia Boyd, who is active in the NAACP, both in arts activities and L.A. schools initiatives, has been given time off for her work with the organization, as well as the use of company offices for meetings.
Tanner Mainstain treads more lightly when it comes to its business-management clients. “If we think the client might be interested in that particular cause, we will bring it up in conversation and encourage them, but we don’t want to go too heavy-handed,” says Mainstain. “People have their pet charities or their pet causes that they like to associate with. Mine may not be yours, and vice versa.”