Passion through purpose… It’s not just a core value listed on a web page, it’s actually a working philosophy that has guided the 250 employees of Service First Mortgage to serve their customers through community. Founded in 1997 by Shawn Broussard, Service First Mortgage is a lending company headquartered in Richardson, Texas with branches throughout the Lone Star state and one in Arizona. Broussard has steadily grown Service First through strategic initiatives and principled actions while also developing a culture of service and engagement among his team.
Broussard was introduced to Boot Campaign and its efforts four years ago by industry colleagues, and was immediately hooked. Todd Duncan at Sales Mastery had already begun supporting Boot Campaign, and Broussard brought Service First to the team, helping raise over $300,000 to build ten houses for veterans. As an industry leader, Shawn’s reach was deep. Because of his involvement with Boot Campaign, others in his field and his own Service First leaders were so moved by his efforts they decided to get their own boots on, too.
John Donnelly, Service First’s vice president of sales, was one of those people. “As a company, we pledge to make a difference in our communities that extends beyond our lending solutions. In my job as VP of sales, we said we wanted to have a charity we could support and Boot Campaign kept coming up,” he explained. “We wanted to give money, but also wanted to bring more awareness to Boot Campaign in order to help them gain more support.”
Their effort to raise money, Donnelly said, was at first a simple attempt to see how much they could actually collect. There wasn’t a specific monetary goal; raising money and supporting the troops was the only mission. That shot-in-the-dark attempt paid off well – through generous employee donations, private donations and other efforts including a social media campaign, Service First raised over $30,000 in 2013.
In 2014, Donnelly, his team and all of Service First’s branches knew their plan to support America’s troops and the Boot Campaign mission had a solid foundation, so they decided to step up their game. They opted to do what they do best in servicing the homeowner, and worked toward a more focused initiative. “Last year, we wanted to bring it up a notch. We decided that we wanted to help veteran families with their home needs. So, we set a goal to raise $25,000 during our fall cause,” said Donnelly.
Through the 2014 initiative, from November to January, Service First got their boots on and hit the ground running. Like their first fundraising effort, they implemented social media campaigns featuring branch employees sporting boots and Boot Campaign t-shirts, and donated $1 for each picture tagged with #TroopTuesday or #sfboots. The company also implemented a matching initiative, donating $200 to the campaign for every VA loan closed. Their closing attorneys, Luna & Luna and McGlinchey, Stafford & Associates, helped, too, pitching in $100 toward the goal for every VA loan they closed during that time. Private donations and donations from Service First employees added even more to the growing total. It was exciting to say the least!
The success of these efforts, explained Donnelly, was partly due to employees, clients and those they made aware of Boot Campaign, having a personal connection to the cause, whether it was a family member, friend or even an employee’s own military service. Whatever the motivation behind Service First reaching its fundraising goal, Donnelly is so grateful his team and others took the lead and accomplished it. “When you put yourself out there to raise money and set a high goal like we did, you hope everybody else will follow and buy into the cause,” he shared.
As the name implies, service really is at the heart of everything Service First does as a business and as a team. Donnelly understands the importance of corporate giving and charitable support in the success of any company and strives to ensure his clients, team and community recognize it, too. “The only thing I hope to come of our efforts is that our customers and partners are proud to support Boot Campaign and want to do business with a company who gives back. I think it’s just that simple. We aren’t doing it for any other reason. We just want to support the veterans,” emphasized Donnelly. “[I want them to] know that our company isn’t only taking care of them and doing a good job with their mortgage, but we’re also trying to help in other ways, too. I just don’t think it’s anymore complicated than that.” Service First is looking to add an annual fall golf event to their already robust fundraising efforts, proving once again their deep commitment to Boot Campaign and to this great nation.