Making Connections Matters in Charitable Giving

Tony Dickinson, president of NCMIC, with former Meredith executive chairman Steve Lacy at the opening of the Girls & Boys Club of Central Iowa’s Meredith club at East High School.

Writer: Steve Dinnen

A lot of business in Des Moines gets done by way of connections. For a great number of us, including insurance company executive Tony Dickinson, a lot of fundraising and charitable work get done that way too. He was making some calls a few years back, trying to raise some money for a nonprofit he was engaged with, and found that donor doors opened just a little easier when he mentioned he was working on the project with Steve Lacy, then executive chairman at Meredith Corp.

“I built a relationship with Lacy,” as a result of working together on those capital campaigns, said Dickinson, who is president of NCMIC in West Des Moines.

Dickinson, 41, said Lacy and others served as mentors to him as he worked his way through the corporate and charitable giving sides of Des Moines. He ticked off a number of influencers he met while working previously at Wells Fargo, such as Cara Heiden, the retired president of its sprawling home mortgage operations here, and Scott Johnson, on the banking side; and NCMIC CEO Mike McCoy, who now is Dickinson’s boss. All of these people, plus more, guided him both professionally and in the many nonprofits he has served with in the community, such as the Boys and Girls Club of Central Iowa, United Way and the Greater Des Moines Partnership.

Dickinson got involved in volunteer work by way of the church. His dad was a banker in Mount Pleasant and ran the finance committee at the Catholic church there. “It was always something at the church,” he said of volunteer duties, be it selling ice cream at a church booth staged at the annual Midwest Old Threshers Reunion (back on again this year) or even rising early every Sunday morning to serve as an altar boy.

And when it came time for the Knights of Columbus to raise money, “there I was – I sold Tootsie Rolls.”

An older Dickinson volunteered with Habitat for Humanity. And currently he’s on the board of the Iowa Sports Foundation, which annually brings together tens of thousands of Iowans to show their athletic skills at the Iowa Games and Iowa Senior Games; and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Iowa (see story below).

NCMIC fits Dickinson’s style. “We take care of our own, and that extends to our customers and community,” he said. From there, and his church work, he has seen the value of social responsibility. He also saw the value of those role models, and now hopes to pass along lessons learned from them to his peers.

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