In Person: Campbell’s Philanthropic Philosophy

For BBC International’s founder, giving back is the part of success he savors most.

Inspired by his own humble background, Bob Campbell has made philanthropy a personal passion throughout his long career. “I’ve done very well for myself and I have a great life, but my success means nothing if I can’t share it with others,” said the chairman and CEO, who was raised, along with his three sisters, by a single mother.

Despite the demands of running a multimillion-dollar global business, Campbell gives generously of his time and resources to a long — and ever-growing — list of charities.

“There are so many organizations out there and so much need, and you can’t support them all. But if they pertain to children, I’ll always listen,” he said. “I didn’t have much growing up and I never even knew there were organizations out there to help. So, if I can help other struggling, disadvantaged kids get the opportunities I never had, I’m happy.”

For more than 20 years, Campbell has worked with New York’s Little Flower organization, which provides safety and care for abused, neglected and abandoned children. Last year he was honored with the agency’s inaugural Monsignor John T. Fagan Humanitarian Award.

In December, he also won Footwear News’ Icon Award for Social Impact.

Campbell is a longtime supporter of the Arc of Palm Beach County, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of kids with developmental disabilities such as cerebral palsy and Down syndrome. Michael Papa, executive director of The Arc, described Campbell as an “invaluable ally” who rallies his network of friends and colleagues to lend their support.

Much of Campbell’s philanthropic work is focused in Boca Raton, Fla., BBC’s corporate headquarters. He is an active benefactor of local organizations such as the Boca Raton Historical Society, Boca Raton Regional Hospital and The Louis & Anne Green Memory & Wellness Center at Florida Atlantic University.

In February, Boca Raton’s Lynn University broke ground on the future Bobby Campbell Stadium, which will be home to the school’s men’s and women’s soccer teams. Campbell, who never attended college but has affectionately dubbed Lynn his “alma mater,” donated $1.2 million for construction of the facility.

Kevin Ross, Lynn’s president, said Campbell’s gift will significantly elevate the university’s athletics program. “Our soccer teams will now have a facility worthy of their eight national championship titles,” Ross said.

In April, Campbell was honored by the Boca Raton-based Florence Fuller Child Development Centers with its 2013 “Biggest Heart” award. Impressed by the work being done by the nonprofit, Campbell and his BBC staff now plan to volunteer their time at the centers, teaching kids about making shoes. “We are so excited about this and believe our children will benefit immensely,” said Ellyn Okrent, CEO of Florence Fuller.

Shoe industry charities also have been a key focus for the CEO. He is part of the executive team behind the Footwear Association Charity Event, an annual golf tournament to benefit underprivileged kids in China.

In addition, he has been a supporter of Two Ten Footwear Foundation for more than four decades, receiving the organization’s first Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009. “We don’t have enough awards or moments to celebrate just how special Bob is to us,” said Two Ten President Neal Newman. “He is the conscience and heart of Two Ten. [It’s obvious] how important the organization is to him on both a professional and personal level. He appreciates our industry’s compassion for our workforce and Two Ten’s mission to help our own in times of pressing need.”

Campbell credits Two Ten with initially sparking his interest in philanthropy. “Two Ten was my first experience with a charity, and I was so inspired by the great work they were doing. I wasn’t in a position to give at the time, but it motivated me, gave me something to aspire to,” he said. “Now that I have a successful company, it feels really good to be able to help others in need. It truly is a passion for me.”

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