Two Two Footwear Foundation ended the month of May with a bang.
Last week, the footwear charity scored a $1.5 million donation from the National Shoe Travelers and confirmed Steve Madden will chair its 2012 annual dinner.
“We are deeply moved and honored to have Steve Madden take the reins,” said Two Ten President Neal Newman. “Steve combines a singularly innovative style with purposeful intent. His love affair with the footwear industry is well known. What isn’t, perhaps, [known] is his selfless commitment to helping make the world a better place.”
For his part, Madden said he was happy to be on board.“It’s a great charity. It’s important for the industry. And any time you can raise consciousness, that’s a good thing,” the designer said. “That’s really what the dinner is about, raising that awareness.”
Of the donation — which comes on the heels of a $1 million gift from Madden and his wife, Wendy Madden, in February — Newman said: “We are thrilled in so many different ways. It’s a way for us to create a permanent legacy and help shoe reps for decades to come.”
The endowment will be used to aid independent footwear salesmen who need professional counseling, emergency financial relief and scholarships. With Two Ten’s 75th anniversary coming in 2014, Newman said the generous financial gifts received within the past five months will help Two Ten raise more awareness.
Earlier this month, the organization also upgraded its rating on ranking group Charity Navigator’s listing to four stars from three. Judged on criteria such as accountability and transparency, Two Ten now has the same rating as nonprofits such as American Red Cross and Save the Children.
“When I started as president in January, I set the goal to raise more money, reach more people and increase our impact,” Newman said. “For us to reach the growing number of people asking for help, we need to raise more money, and this [donation] takes us a long way toward that goal.”
Clarks Cos. N.A. President and Two Ten board chair Jim Salzano is optimistic the new donation will bolster the nonprofit’s relationship with National Shoe Travelers. “Shoe reps have always been helped by Two Ten. This just helps ensure the sustainability of that support,” he said.
The move to bestow the funds to Two Ten was a unanimous decision by the NST board, according to endowment committee co-chair Danny Lakin. He noted that $1.5 million is one of the largest donations NST has ever made. “Two Ten helps everybody in the footwear industry, and we felt that there should be a separate endowment just for shoe reps that have been on the road traveling,” Lakin said. “It’s rare you find an industry that has a charity where it’s your own people taking care of you.”