Reflecting the Light of Generosity

In their 2012 year-end greeting, Wisconsin law firm Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek S.C. announced to its clients, “To honor you and our work together – and to support our communities in a special way – WHD sponsored a very personal initiative called ‘Whyte Lights.’” The initiative was simple: give each firm member $100 expressly for the purpose of being a “Whyte Light” and paying it forward as they saw fit. The lawyers and staff could offer the $100 to a friend or stranger in need of help, or donate it to the charity of their choice. They were then to report back on the experience.

The result of this movement was a generosity wave that rolled out in all directions from every member of the firm to a variety of people and organizations in need of assistance. The booklet of stories collected from the firm’s members is heart-warming and inspiring, chronicling the gratitude of the people and organizations helped by the Whyte Lights, and the effects of this gratitude on the givers. The impact of the Whyte Lights initiative on the recipient of each $100 is obvious, but beyond that is a greater impact that cannot be measured. It’s the triple bottom line at its best. The firm used its resources to better the community through its people – leaving them more fulfilled in their work, and strengthening the ties between partners, associates and staff. Additionally, they strengthened their relationship with their clients by sharing the results of their efforts and encouraging them to commit their own “random acts of kindness.”

The foreword of the Whyte Lights report included this quote by American writer Edith Wharton, “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” The leaders of WHD got to be both, by conceiving the idea and then providing the resources for its members to carry it forward. Those who received assistance may someday be able to reflect the light in their own way because of the generosity gifted to them. That’s a legacy to be proud of.

How is your firm paying generosity forward? Be sure to tell us so we can applaud you as well!