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2011 Bess Cohn Humanitarian Award: Mark Freed, Genumark
By Andraya Vantrease
June 2011

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Donating to more than 30 charity organizations annually, Genumark (asi/204588) is a civic role model to the ad specialties industry. Its CEO of 16 years, Mark Freed, has always had a strong sense of social responsibility, a trait he brought with him to Genumark and has used to influence the company’s priorities to include more charitable work each year.

One of the organizations that Genumark is heavily involved with is the Baycrest Hospital. Genumark has been the marketing sponsor for the last five years for the Baycrest Hospital’s Annual Golf Fundraiser, raising as much as $500,000 for the tournament on an annual basis. It also provides prizes, giveaways and volunteer uniforms for the event. “I got into that one because it’s a great high-profile cause and it deals with stroke and Alzheimer’s research, and my grandfather was affected by Alzheimer’s, so it’s meaningful,” Freed says.

Freed also encourages employees to participate in national events each year such as the CIBC Run for the Cure to benefit Canadian Breast Care Foundation that they completed as a company last year. This year, Genumark chose Becel’s Ride for Heart to raise money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. “I want the employees to get involved with other things besides work and to get out, get active and meet new people,” Freed says.

On the extensive donation list are large foundations including Parkinson Society Canada, Children’s Miracle Network, Jacob’s Ladder, Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada, United Way and also several natural disaster funds including Haiti Relief.

Giving is such a part of the Genumark culture that it’s even built into the overall operating budget. Every year, Genumark allocates a certain amount of money for donations. Fortunately, as the company has continued to grow over the years, the amount available for donation has increased. “It’s an important part of the overall business plan,” says Freed. “As things come through during the year, we keep track of it, and if we’re within our budget, we’ll continue to honor various commitments and pick up new ones.”

And as the company updates its website to include Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools, Freed hopes that this will affect others’ desires to give back to the community. “We’re launching the social media to gain more momentum and get other companies involved in some of the events,” he says. “We’re just being good corporate citizens and it’s an important part of our culture here.” – AV

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