Economic recessions don’t make it easy for individual or corporate donors to give to charities or to individuals in need. The Foundation Center in New York recently estimated that gifts to foundations were off 10 percent in 2009. A Philanthropic Gift Index that The Center for Philanthropy at Indiana University maintains may have risen by nearly 10 percent last year, but still remains near that Index’s 12-year bottom.

Two longtime home builders, Ira Fulton of Fulton Homes and Kevork Hovnanian of Hovnanian Enterprises, saw their share of ups and downs in the housing industry. But they never let economic swings stand in the way of their extraordinarily generous donations of time and money to charities and institutions with which they often had deeply personal relationships.

Ira Fulton of Fulton Homes
Ira Fulton of Fulton Homes

For decades, Fulton has donated to and raised money for several universities where he’s played an active, consultative role in how that money is used. He has also extended his philanthropic and fundraising prowess to the Mormon Church, of which he’s a member; to government programs aimed at preventing children from drowning; and to providing educational opportunities for Native Americans.

Kevork Hovnanian of Hovnanian Enterprises
Roger Tully Kevork Hovnanian of Hovnanian Enterprises

Hovnanian (who passed away in September 2009) fled from politically embattled Iraq in the 1950s and found success in the U.S., events that unquestionably shaped his humanitarianism. In his adopted land, he contributed millions of dollars to the construction and expansion of several hospitals. His ethnic roots as an Armenian also led him to become active in the rebuilding of Armenia after a 1988 earthquake rocked the area.

Now in its 11th year, the Hearthstone Builder Humanitarian Awards is the single largest charitable program in the home building industry, having contributed more than $4 million to various charities. This year, donations of nearly $200,000 will be distributed to charities designated by the honorees or their representatives.

Hearthstone Judges: Thomas Gipson, president, Thomas Gipson Homes; J. Roger Glunt, president, Glunt Development Co. Larry Webb, CEO and partner, The New Home Co.; David Weekley, Chairman, David Weekley Homes; Lee Wetherington, founder and president, Lee Wetherington Homes; John Wieland, chairman and CEO, John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods

Call For Nominations: All for-profit builders or lot developers are eligible as either individuals or companies for the Hearthstone Builder Humanitarian Awards. Builders may nominate themselves or be nominated by other builders or by the charities, nonprofits, or government organizations they have helped. Builder will begin accepting nominations starting on March 15, 2010 and continuing until Aug. 1, 2010. To request a nomination form, contact Denise Dersin at 202-736-3341 or

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Phoenix, AZ.