Klump Family Foundation’s significant gift to United Way helps those affected by pandemic

December 11, 2020

Michael Klump’s first foray into philanthropy came at a young age in St. Louis, Missouri where he grew up.

His family was regularly involved in volunteer events in his neighborhood — he specifically recalls carnivals hosted by local nonprofits benefiting muscular dystrophy.

“I haven’t thought about that in a long time,” he says with a laugh. “That was my first foray into any type of philanthropy efforts at the age of 9. There was always something growing up, whether it was these carnivals or 10K marches. That was the very early onset, and I’ve always been interested in helping out when I can because that was what we did with my parents.”

Early in his professional career, Michael says he gave on occasion to various local nonprofits. However, as his business took off, he saw how other successful businesses in Atlanta gave back to their community, and he wanted to replicate those efforts.

More than a decade ago, the Klump Family Foundation was formed. He heads the foundation with a small committee that manages pledges to nonprofit organizations. The giving has focused primarily on health, education and support for the U.S. military, he says — at least in a normal year; 2020 is far from normal.

Klump, who moved to Atlanta in 1991, is founder and chairman of the Argonne Capital Group, an Atlanta-based private investment firm founded in 2003 that specializes in multi-unit restaurant, retail and service industries. The firm’s investments include significant holdings in brands such as IHOP, Applebee’s, Planet Fitness, John Deere, Sonny’s BBQ and On The Border Mexican Grill and Cantina.

About two weeks into March 2020, major cities across the country began shutting down restaurants, bars, gyms and schools in an attempt to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. As of Dec. 10, the infectious disease, COVID-19, which is a respiratory illness with symptoms such as cough, fever and in severe cases, difficulty breathing, has infected more than 15 million people nationwide and killed more than 285,000.

Massive nationwide partial shutdowns had a direct impact on the retail and service industry, and because of this, there were many of these same businesses locally that had to let go of its employees.

Michael said the focus of his foundation quickly shifted to help these people who were being hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic. He learned about the Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, which is a joint effort by United Way of Greater Atlanta and Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. After speaking with United Way President and CEO Milton J. Little Jr., the Klump Family Foundation donated $1 million to the fund.

“When COVID first came around, we saw that as an urgent need, and I saw a couple of the other lead donors [who had given to the fund],” he says. “It was gut-wrenching in the service industry, and we wanted to help a lot of the people that had worked for us.”

The Community Foundation and United Way were best equipped to deliver the funds to those who needed it, he says.

“It seemed like a logical place to make an immediate donation,” Michael says.

Michael says he used to give more anonymously early in his career, but as his business has grown, he likes to use his connections to help spur others in his community and zip code to give to causes they care about.

“I’m not one to ever tell anybody what to do with their money—it’s a personal choice,” he says. “But if people are successful, they should consider some level of philanthropy. It’s not about trying to put names on buildings across the city.

“[Giving] makes me feel good, but I’m not really looking for a lot of recognition. You just like to know how your money is helping.”