Photography by Dan Austin
Companies big and small are learning to align themselves with philanthropic causes but here in Lakeland the philanthropic culture at CPS Investment Advisors dates back to 1975, and the legacy continues.
Company culture shapes how employees interact with each other. Today, most companies pair company cultures with unique office spaces, fully stocked fridges, gym memberships, and endless perks. While some of these offerings are exciting and helpful, the lasting effects of these perks aren’t as impactful as a company’s philanthropic culture. Promoting a philanthropic culture within a for-profit organization allows employees to cultivate deep connections with one another and develop a sense of purpose beyond daily career tasks.
Profit-based companies can give back to their communities in significant ways if they develop a community-focused approach to business operations. CPS Investment Advisors has been doing just that since 1975. In 1975, CPS Investment Advisors began in Lakeland, Florida as Chas P. Smith & Associates, PA, CPA’s. At that time, they offered traditional tax and accounting services focused on educating clients about money and financial independence. Now, over 45 years later, as a fiduciary with access to all investment vehicles, CPS Investment Advisors, along with CPS Group, CPAs offers full-service, holistic financial planning services that include investment management, estate & trust planning, risk management, cash flow and budgeting, tax services and planning, retirement planning, and 401(K) planning.
Smith helped organizations thrive in their finances while laying the foundation for what would become one of CPS’s most significant legacies.
Chas P. Smith, the founder of CPS Investment Advisors, believed in giving back to the community and contributed to philanthropic works with monetary donations in addition to his time and skills in finance. Smith helped organizations thrive in their finances while laying the foundation for what would become one of the company’s most significant legacies.
Today three partners, Peter C. Golotko, Michael A. Riskin, and Nolen B. Bailey, along with their expansive team at CPS, are not only dedicated to their clients; they are also dedicated to helping the community when they see a need.
“At CPS Investment Advisors, employees have the opportunity to choose and support a philanthropic endeavor which they are passionate about, whether that’s education or foster care—the list goes on and on,” explains Peter Golotko, President and CEO of CPS Investment Advisors.
Throughout the years, CPS Investment Advisors has received numerous awards for their philanthropic contributions. In 2021, CPS was recognized by the Greater Polk County chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) as Philanthropic Corporation of the Year. These recognitions further solidify CPS as an example to follow when cultivating a philanthropic culture within a company.
Recently, CPS created their own special fundraising event called Clays for a Cause. This event hosts teams comprised of local businesses and individuals who pay to compete in a clay-shooting contest. Proceeds from each “Clays for a Cause” event are designated for local charities to support their own fundraising efforts, including Mr. Central Florida (Central Florida Speech and Hearing Center), the Swan Derby (Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine), and Flight to Honor, Polk. This April, Flight to Honor Polk will take area veterans to Washington D.C. to see their respective memorials, thanks in part to a generous $40,000 donation that was raised at their designated Clays for a Cause event. You’ll almost always find a CPS team member (or more) representing the company at one of these annual events. CPS also supports the efforts of the United Way of Central Florida, Peace River Center, Volunteers in Service to the Elderly, Polk Association for Women Lawyers, and local Chamber of Commerce programs, including those that support young professionals like Engage Bartow, Endeavor Winter Haven, and EMERGE Lakeland, just to name a few.
In 2020, the CPS team founded “CPS Cares”, a 501c3 that is completely dedicated to the company’s philanthropic endeavors. CPS Cares, Inc. is intended to help raise and distribute much-needed funds to local organizations in the greater Lakeland communities. “CPS Cares ensures all funds raised are used to improve the lives of our friends, families, and neighbors; to uplift them when challenges arise,” says Michael A. Riskin, Vice President and Treasurer.
“We always say that financial advice and helping people with their finances is our superpower,” continued Riskin. “Whether it’s our own employees benefiting from our own services or a not-for-profit client, we go all-in,”
CPS believes that the key to creating a philanthropic culture within an organization is to start by giving of your time and your company’s unique skills. “Give a little bit of your time. That’s invaluable. Then, as your company and your resources grow, you can grow in your giving in the ways it makes sense for you,” shared Golotko.
“Give a little bit of your time. That’s invaluable…”
– Peter C. Golotko
At CPS, it is a team approach to organizing opportunities to work with charities and local events. This allows members of the team to be a part of something together, spending countless hours away from their desks to give back to the causes they are passionate about. By focusing on causes that resonate with the team members’ individual passions, their hearts become connected to them and what was once a day at the office has an added sense of purpose and meaning in their lives.
Additional philanthropic endeavors span from traditional volunteering and monetary donations to creative events and experiences that leave a mark in the community. “We have a fire truck that we take to schools like Philip O’ Brien Elementary, and we’ll partner with our local Kiwanis clubs for their annual “Stuff the Bus” events,” says Golotko. CPS owns a fully-branded fire truck as well as an ice cream truck. Both of these unique vehicles are used to create memorable experiences at fundraisers or simply used as fun ways to give back to the community. During “Stuff the Bus” events, CPS team members stuff the fire truck with backpacks and school supplies and then deliver and distribute these essential supplies for children in need. It’s also not uncommon to find the CPS fire truck at school or community events as an opportunity for kids to engage with, climb and touch.
During the height of the pandemic, as local restaurants were experiencing hard times, CPS saw that need and filled it. They made an effort to invest in the local restaurant community by buying lunches for the staff from local restaurants as much as possible. “Charity isn’t always a 501c3, it’s the ability to care about something or someone truly, and that’s what we do. We care about our communities, Lakeland, Tampa, Orlando, and everything in between”, says Golotko.
A company’s core values drive the organization to make decisions, plans, and strategies. They outline what is most important to the organization and are the foundation of the culture. CPS Investment Advisors is not only about monetarily supporting non-profit organizations but truly putting boots on the ground and sharing their passion for giving back with the community when and where they most need it.
“We try to do the right thing every day, and we try to make a positive impact in people’s lives, our clients, and our employees,” Riskin added. “That is our ultimate goal. We really believe that the more you give, the more you receive, and so then we continue to give more. We live by that.”