ARCHIVED  November 5, 2010

Army of Otters gives back through OtterCares

FORT COLLINS – The desire to start a charitable foundation runs deep for OtterBox founders Curt and Nancy Richardson.

They have been involved in community volunteer work for the 35 years they have lived in Northern Colorado. Since they became business owners in the mid-1980s, they have thought about translating that community involvement into a charitable foundation.

That desire has become reality this week with the launch of OtterCares, the charitable arm of OtterBox, the company that makes protective covers for handheld technology.

“We’ve always lived by the motto, ‘To whom much has been given, much is required,'” Nancy Richardson said. “We feel like it’s a privilege to give back to the community.”

OtterBox is Northern Colorado’s fastest growing company, and its explosive growth during the past few years precipitated the creation of OtterCares, Richardson said.

Founded in 1998, OtterBox has about 200 employees, more than 60 of them hired this year alone. Over the past few months, the company has bought five properties west of Old Town to accommodate anticipated expansion to 500 employees. OtterBox also recently opened an office location in Ireland to manage expansion into markets in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

OtterBox has a history of charitable giving and involving its employees in volunteer opportunities with nonprofit organizations. The launch of OtterCares means charitable donations will come through the foundation rather than the company, said Tricia Lemmer, development director for OtterCares.

Funding right now will come from a percentage of OtterBox’s profits. In the future an endowment may be set up, Lemmer said.

OtterCares focuses on giving to efforts that educate and empower youth. In the past OtterBox has participated in events with the Boys and Girls Clubs, Partners Mentoring Youth and Realities for Children, Richardson said.

Give it, grow it, give it

For the launch of OtterCares, the company started the “Give it, grow it, give it” campaign, in which each of its employees received a $200 grant voucher to give to a charity of their choice.

For three weeks, employees were challenged to grow the donation through a personal match, collecting outside donations for the organization, offering a commitment of time, or even hosting an event to raise extra money or goods.

Results from the campaign – and where the donations ended up going – will be announced next week.

Allowing the employees to give is part of the company’s desire to put them at the forefront of OtterCares, Richardson said.

“As a company we can only do so much,” she said. “But we believe an army of Otters can really move mountains.”

The foundation will also set up partnerships with nonprofits that serve youth, allowing OtterBox employees volunteer opportunities with those organizations. It’s all part of fostering a culture of giving within the company, Richardson said.

“Our employees are already geared and wired to be givers,” she said. “The foundation will provide more opportunities and expose what’s out there. A lot of times employees want to give but they just don’t know how to get involved.”

FORT COLLINS – The desire to start a charitable foundation runs deep for OtterBox founders Curt and Nancy Richardson.

They have been involved in community volunteer work for the 35 years they have lived in Northern Colorado. Since they became business owners in the mid-1980s, they have thought about translating that community involvement into a charitable foundation.

That desire has become reality this week with the launch of OtterCares, the charitable arm of OtterBox, the company that makes protective covers for handheld technology.

“We’ve always lived by the motto, ‘To whom much has been given, much is…

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