FUND-RAISING FOR GREEK ORGANIZATIONS & MORE
Local Firm That Fund-Raises for Greek Organizations Expands Its Scope.
| 2017 Q2 | story by Hank Booth, photos by Steven Hertzog
“We want to make raving fans out of our customers.” With those words, Patrick Alderdice, CEO of Pennington and Co., expresses the bottom-line goal of a local company that has since become the premier fraternity and sorority fund-raising firm in the nation. What started as a regional fund-raising organization by two Lawrence men in 1993 has grown into a national company with headquarters in Lawrence, Kansas. Pennington and Co. has raised more than a half-billion dollars, with help from alumni groups it puts together, primarily for Greek organizations for use in building and remodeling living facilities all across the country.
Pennington and Co. was started by Daniel Pennington, John Esau and Mary Dillon in a small office in west Lawrence. They were the only employees of the new company. In 1996, they hired a young man named Patrick Alderdice and, three years later, went in other directions in their business careers, and sold the company to Alderdice. That marked the beginning of a new Pennington national Greek fund-raising organization that today raises more money for its clients than all of its competition combined.
Pennington has grown from six employees in 2000 to 85 in its newly upgraded facilities in two buildings in the same location just off of Sixth Street. In addition, 25 other employees carry the Pennington message in 15 cities in every time zone in the country, and that number is growing every year. Today, Pennington represents more than 60 national fraternities and sororities on more than 135 college campuses.
But, that’s just the numbers. The underlying passion, philosophy and personal relationships of those working for this remarkable business are really the story of Pennington and Co. It is a story they are proud to share.
When Alderdice and those who stayed on took over 24 years ago, Pennington was a regional company and confined to schools in the Midwest. The company quickly spread its wings to Greek houses at Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Florida and Cornell University as some of the early clients. Its success was driven, in part, by product knowledge. (After graduation from college, CEO Patrick Alderdice had served in several positions with his own college fraternity, Delta Chi’s, national organization.)
Early on, Alderdice and Pennington team members asked alumni of the fraternities and sororities needing the facelift to help with fund-raising, and his background from his own college days and early work experience helped get that done. Perhaps more importantly, the early Pennington team became excellent trainers of future employees. Word of their early work in successfully putting together alumni groups to raise the money for major projects quickly spread. They combined fund-raising, communications and marketing expertise with a personal commitment to the value they shared of having a Greek life experience in college.
Just as important as that commitment to financing and building quality living facilities for Greek organizations is the internal dedication of Pennington’s management team to create a great workplace. In 2015, the company was named as a Best Company to Work For in companies under 100 employees by the Lawrence Journal World. It has grown since then but is just as committed to the PFI (Pennington Fun Index). Alderdice explains it simply, “Service is our job, and my No. 1 product is our people.” Employees agree. “We want to make raving fans out of all of our clients,” he says.
Pennington and Co. covers it all in the world of fund-raising for Greeks and is currently moving into smaller private schools. Locally, it has worked with Lawrence’s Bishop Seabury Academy. From start-up feasibility study to needs assessment for the house being remodeled to raising the money and finally to managing the project through completion, Pennington covers all of the bases and promises to work just as hard for the small school as it does for large national Greek groups. It’s all part of creating raving fans out of all those who choose Pennington’s style to win the fund-raising game.