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Business pairs profit, philanthropy

Del Mar entrepreneur Josh Jenkins-Robbins recently attended a private fund-raiser held May 17 in La Jolla for a local non-profit that helps families in rural Uganda.

His presence at the event was two-fold: to learn about the foundation, Just Like My Child, while showing potential donors how to maximize their contributions to charitable organizations through his insurance and financial services firm, which donates half of all revenues to charities.

Jenkins-Robbins, 29, son of well-known motivational speaker Tony Robbins, founded Ensure Charity, his third business venture, a year ago after he reached a point in his life where he felt he wasn’t giving back enough.

Inspired by ideas such as micro loans and business owners-turned-do gooders like Bill Gates, Jenkins-Robbins asked himself, “How can I do something like that in my industry?”

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Basing his company on the “creative capitalism” concept, which aligns profit making with making a difference, Jenkins-Robbins wanted to offer his clients an opportunity to also help others.

“There’s two trends that I see effecting corporations in general: pressure to be and a want to be more socially conscious,” he said. “The essence of the model is the more you make, the more you give.”

Ensure Charity offers a variety of life insurance, annuity and insurance services to its clients. The draw, said Jenkins-Robbins, is that many individuals are already paying for these services. Why not go with a company that gives the added benefit of a tax-deductible contribution to a non-profit?

Donating 50 percent of all commissions, Ensure Charity has found a means of maximizing their clients’ decision to place their business with Jenkins-Robbins.

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The “friend-raiser,” as Just Like My Child founder Vivian Glyck of University City called the night’s event, was a chance for the author and former marketing consultant a - whose clients included Dean Ornish and Deepak Chopra - to share her story with potential supporters.

“The thing that has worked best for us, in terms of visibility, is when one person is passionate,” Glyck said. “Of course I’d love people to invest financially, but it’s not just about donations but publicizing the needs and mission. That, to me, is the most fun of these types of opportunities and events.”

In July 2006, following a visit to a hospital in rural Uganda, Glyck returned home feeling motivated but uncertain where to make a donation.

“I came back and said, ‘We have to do something,’” she recalled, her heart and sensitivity opened by the needs of children and families ravaged by poverty and illness. Named to reflect the same love and dedication she carries for her son, Zakary, Glyck founded Just Like My Child.

Her first task was to purchase a generator for the hospital. Without refrigeration, medication often spoiled and patients were treated under the light of a lantern. Within six weeks, Glyck had raised $30,000 for Bishop Asili Hospital.

Glyck believes that health care, education and microenterprise are equally important to eliminating poverty and empowering communities, especially women.

“We’re hoping we can uplift a community by having intense effort over a short period of time,” Glyck said.

That presents a huge challenge for the Foundation, but Glyck has accomplished amazing results in less than two years: establishing scholarships for primary-age girls to attend private board school in Uganda, educating communities on malaria treatment and prevention, obtaining CD4 testing equipment to help AIDS-infected villagers qualify for anti-retroviral medication, distribution of more than 10,000 insecticide-treated bed nets, hiring the hospital’s first physician and surgeon, and building partnerships with microenterprise investors.

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The May 17 event focused on raising $150,000 to build a surgical suite at the hospital. While Glyck’s foundation remained center stage, the evening offered a chance for guests to get acquainted over a common interest while enjoying live music, a gospel choir and delicious food.

Like Jenkins-Robbin’s company, the night fulfilled two goals.

“This is found money for non-profits in a time when it’s very important for non-profits to be using creating ways to raise money,” Jenkins-Robbins said. “Many of the non-profits have felt (the impact of the economy) especially the small non-profits without large endowments that can support them during tough times.”