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12/9/2014 12:00 AM

Southwest Airlines supports charitable groups serving critically ill youth and American military families, as well as youth services and disaster relief groups.


Southwest is the nation’s largest budget-friendly airline, serving some 100 million customers annually through Southwest planes and those of its subsidiary, AirTran Airways. Together, the two carriers operate nearly 3,600 flights a day, serving 93 destinations across the United States and five additional countries—with plans to expand to Costa Rica in early 2015. The company is known for a no-frills, low-cost approach where seating is non-reservable—passengers may take any empty seat they please. The company’s strategy has met with great success, as Southwest has lodged nearly 40 straight years of profitability in an industry that has seen tremendous ups and downs in that time frame. In 2013, the company reported sales of roughly $17.7 billion and employed about 44,800 workers.


Southwest’s philanthropy involves a mix of cash and product donations and employee volunteerism in support of nonprofit charitable groups across the country that serve communities where the airline’s employees live and work.

The company’s charitable contributions are largely directed by Community Giving Boards—derived from Southwest employees in each of its major service cities—that are trained and empowered to evaluate charitable giving requests from their local community. Through these boards, the company donates complimentary, round-trip tickets to approved organizations for fundraising or transportation purposes, and makes recommendations for cash donations and other forms of support for a variety of constituencies and purposes, including:

  • Support for families facing serious illnesses. Through a longstanding relationship with Ronald McDonald House Charities, Southwest serves and supports families who need a “home away from home” while their children undergo medical treatment. The Southwest Airlines Annual LUV Classic Golf Tournament has raised more than $12 million for Ronald McDonald House Charities. In addition, Southwest administers its own Medical Transportation Grant Program in conjunction with hospitals and organizations that assist individuals who must travel to receive medical care.
  • Support for service members and their families. Southwest honors veterans of all past wars through its relationship with the Honor Flight Network, and works with many other charities to support the men, women and children who have served in the nation’s armed services.
  • Youth leadership and community involvement. The company supports charitable organizations that develop leadership in today’s youth—especially between the ages of 12 and 17—and encourages them to get involved and give back to their own communities. As part of this effort, Southwest’s own Adopt-a-Pilot program strives to pass on the leadership, values and goal-setting skills to future generations. Introduced in 1997 as a supplementary way to educate students through aviation-themed activities related to science, geography, math and other core subjects, the Adopt-a-Pilot program matches Southwest pilots with opportunities to mentor students in and around the fifth-grade level. The pilots mentor students as they research careers and further develop life skills, while reinforcing the importance of staying in school.
  • Disaster preparedness and response. Southwest works with organizations to help its communities be more prepared for emergencies, and lends its logistics and transportation support in times of need due to natural disasters.

Complementing these efforts are those of Southwest employees who volunteer with community groups across the country, in addition to serving on local, state and national boards to assist nonprofit organizations in achieving their missions. To encourage and support its employees in this regard, Southwest launched the Tickets for Time program that awards one complimentary round-trip ticket for travel for every 40 hours an employee volunteers with a nonprofit organization. The tickets can be used for fundraising or transportation needs.

Additional information is available on the company’s website.

Pro Bono
12/1/2014 12:00 AM

A new report from the Taproot Foundation identifies ways companies can overcome traditional challenges to implementing pro bono community service programs.

Data from numerous sources—the most recent of which being the CECP’s recently released Giving in Numbers 2014 Survey—suggest that pro bono service is quickly becoming a favored way for companies to support their overall community investment initiatives. Yet, according to the Taproot Foundation, there are some persistent challenges that are standing in the way of the broader adoption of pro bono and other forms of skills-based volunteer service—namely, having sufficient resources to run and scale a program, getting management buy-in and identifying the right program participants to be successful.

According to a new report issued by Taproot, the result of these challenges is that skills-based service comprises just about 15 percent of the typical company’s overall volunteer activities, even though corporate leaders want that number to be closer to 40 percent. After looking at companies that have successfully tackled these challenges, Taproot has identified some key strategies employed successfully by companies—notably, American Express, MetLife and Adobe—that have tackled these challenges. They include:

  • Connecting core business competencies with nonprofits’ needs. Just as it is common practice for a company to align a new business offering with the core competencies of its talent, so it should be when it comes to offering pro bono services as well, the group says.
  • “When a company leverages its core competencies to address critical, relevant needs in the nonprofit sector, it yields benefits across many fronts, both helping to alleviate the common program management challenges cited here as well as deepening the company’s unique value to its community partners by providing targeted support,” the report states.

    This entails:

    • Leveraging a reputation for excellence. Businesses should focus on an area of expertise for which the company is well known. This will more quickly build understanding, awareness and demand among key stakeholders, within both the nonprofit partner and the potential employee volunteers, Taproot says.
    • Taking advantage of existing methodologies and processes. Similarly, companies should leverage existing methodologies and business processes that accompany a company’s core focus, which should help reduce the amount of unique investment needed to support the pro bono program, the group suggests.
    • Accelerating the matching of need to expertise. When pro bono services are aligned with a company’s core competencies, it will make it easier to vet and match nonprofits’ needs and employee skills due to a better understanding of the nature and potential applications of this core area of expertise, Taproot says.
  • Investing in the company’s talent with pro bono service. According to the report, integrating pro bono service with talent development can deepen the program’s internal impact as well as its benefits for the community. Many successful programs are adding pro bono service opportunities to existing leadership development programs or beginning and expanding programs in direct partnership with talent development initiatives driven by human resources departments, Taproot says.
  • Key components to this include:

    • Benefitting from HR’s perspective on employee expertise. Screening employees to identify the right participants for a pro bono project is often cited as one of the most challenging tasks. Yet, HR managers are typically well tuned to the skills, expertise and potential of employees, and can help facilitate an effective matching process, the report says.
    • Using pro bono as leadership development. According to the report, the experiential learning component inherent in pro bono service can help companies address leadership gaps by developing the hard and soft skills of their future business leaders.
  • Scaling the pro bono ethic by engaging internal business leaders. According to Taproot, companies of all types can scale up their programs by taking a page from the legal profession, which has long adopted a deeply ingrained professional ethic of pro bono service.
  • To do this, companies should:

    • Leverage internal subject-matter leaders to develop and sustain a more informed program. While a company’s corporate social responsibility 
      team is focused on building and strengthening community partnerships, internal subject-matter leaders can prove most helpful in clearly identifying volunteer skills and roles, relevant project types and the most appropriate time period to drive maximum participation in programs, the report says.
    • Foster buy-in, support and accountability by engaging internal business leaders in program leadership roles. Taproot suggests companies involve leadership from the relevant internal functional groups—both the CSR unit and the various internal subject matter leaders—in the planning, design and oversight of a pro bono program. This will build and reinforce their investment in the program, provide relevant support and strengthen the pro bono ethic among their peers, the group says.

For more information, the report, Key Trends to Watch: The Next Wave of Growth in Corporate Pro Bono Service, can be found online at

11/25/2014 12:00 AM

Integrys Energy Group supports arts and culture, education, community development, and health and human services in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.


Integrys Energy Group is a diversified energy holding company with six regulated natural gas and electric utility operations under its umbrella: Michigan Gas Utilities, Minnesota Energy Resources Corp., North Shore Gas Co., People’s Gas Light and Coke Co., Wisconsin Public Service and Upper Peninsula Power. Combined, the company’s utilities serve more than 2.1 million customers in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. It also provides retail energy supplies and service through its Integrys Energy Services subsidiary. Integrys reported sales of about $5.6 billion in 2013 and employed nearly 4,900 workers.


Integrys supports a wide range of charitable groups operating in its service areas in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The company’s giving is focused on the following areas:

  • Arts and culture. Integrys supports projects that promote diversity and make the arts accessible to all people in its communities, including theater, dance, music, drama and museums.
  • Community and neighborhood development. The company supports a range of nonprofit organizations dedicated to community improvement.
  • Education. Integrys supports numerous educational programs, including those where businesses and educational institutions partner to provide career planning and mentorship opportunities. These efforts are often focused on youth, minorities and women.
  • The environment. The company supports efforts to protect and encourage the wise use of natural resources, and other programs focused on the betterment of fish and wildlife, water and air quality, forests, energy efficiency, renewable energy and recycling.
  • Health and human services. Integrys supports several programs that serve limited-income, senior and handicapped individuals, and other programs that promote health and wellness in its communities. Much of its support in this area goes to the United Way, which the company supports through direct corporate contributions and by facilitating employee and retiree gifts and volunteer service.

Much of its giving is conducted via its main operating subsidiaries—in particular, Wisconsin Public Service, People’s Gas and North Shore Gas. Most notably, the company supports the many philanthropic programs offered by the Wisconsin Public Service Foundation. Through direct grants, scholarships and other programs, the foundation supports the quality of life in the communities served by Integrys’ utilities.

Education is the primary area of support for the foundation, which offers numerous scholarships for children of WPS customers and the company’s employees, including:

  • Larry L. Weyers Phuture Phoenix Scholarship. Named in honor of a former Integrys CEO, this scholarship recognizes a student who was a participant of the Phuture Phoenix program and will be attending the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.
  • Agribusiness/Forestry Scholarship. This program helps young people of the WPS service territory develop skills, leadership abilities and technical knowledge to meet the challenges of forestry, farming and farm-related activities.
  • Wisconsin Technical College Scholarship. This scholarship provides graduating high school seniors with financial assistance to continue their education through enrollment in certain Wisconsin Technical Colleges.
  • Linus M. Stoll Scholarship. This scholarship promotes technical college excellence by providing financial assistance to students who have demonstrated high academic standards, provided exemplary community service and exhibited leadership while attending high school.

The foundation also offers a Matching Gifts Program that provides a dollar-for-dollar match for employee donations to charity, up to $2,500 per employee per year, as well as a Dollars-for-Doers program that awards grants of up to $300 for nonprofits with which WPS employees volunteer.

For more information, visit the company’s website.

News Briefs
12/16/2014 12:00 AM

The Toyota U.S.A. Foundation awarded more than $5 million to support innovative K–12 programs focused on science, technology, engineering and math.

The Toyota U.S.A. Foundation has awarded more than $5 million in grants to 23 organizations that offer innovative K–12 programs focusing on science, technology, engineering and math, and serve diverse communities across all 50 states. Major grantees include Biotech Partners, which was awarded $200,000 to expand access to its two-year biotech education program to reach more high school students in underserved communities; the Center for Inspired Teaching in Washington, D.C., which was awarded $400,000 to disseminate and replicate a literacy-infused STEM program that builds teacher capacity and creates an engaging, inquiry-based curriculum; and the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth, which will receive $750,500 to expand opportunities for college access and entry into STEM fields for academically talented, low-income, underrepresented minority students in Los Angeles, Baltimore and New York.

News Briefs
12/4/2014 12:00 AM

The UPS Foundation has awarded nearly $2.5 million to 10 nonprofit organizations working on environmental sustainability issues around the world.

The UPS Foundation has awarded nearly $2.5 million to 10 nonprofit organizations working on environmental sustainability issues. The foundation’s largest grant recipient is The Nature Conservancy, which will continue its work under UPS’s Global Forestry Initiative, which supports efforts to plant, protect and preserve trees in urban and rural areas and critical forests around the world. Funding for The Nature Conservancy will support reforestation in the United States, Brazil, Guatemala, Haiti and China, where the nonprofit will be directly responsible for planting 700,000 trees in at-risk or eroded ecosystems. Other grantees include the Student Conservation Association, to support the SCA National Conservation Internship program for college students interested in careers in environmental stewardship; the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, to support the organization’s annual conference; and the World Wildlife Fund, to build local capacity for tropical rainforest restoration and reforestation in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

News Briefs
11/10/2014 12:00 AM

The Land O’Lakes Foundation has pledged $25 million over ten years to the University of Minnesota to support academic and athletic programs at the university.

Land O’Lakes and the Land O’Lakes Foundation have pledged $25 million over ten years to the University of Minnesota to support academic and athletic programs at the university. According to UM, the support will advance the school’s teaching, student support, athletic programs and research mission, with the bulk of the funding going to support intercollegiate athletic programs. Some $15 million will go toward the construction of a 60,000-square-foot Center for Excellence in the university’s new Athletics Village. Land O’Lakes will receive naming rights to the center, which will house academic, nutrition and leadership development programs for university students and student-athletes. On the academic side, $1 million will go to establish an endowed Land O’Lakes Chair in Marketing within the university’s Carlson School of Management, and $1 million will go to the school’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences to support scholarships and programming for students.


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  • Meet the Editor

    Nicholas King

    Nicholas King has served as editor of Corporate Philanthropy Report since 2007, and he continues to be impressed with the philanthropic efforts of the nation’s business sector.

    Drawing on an educational background in English and environmental policy, Nicholas began his journalism career in 2000 when he was brought on as editor of Environmental Laboratory Washington Report, a niche-market subscription-based newsletter serving the environmental testing industry. After seven years of honing his craft, Nicholas expanded his writing/editing portfolio to an entirely new field of interest - corporate philanthropy. As editor of Corporate Philanthropy Report, he stays abreast of the latest developments affecting corporate giving—and the charitable/nonprofit sector more broadly—providing his readers the “need to know” information vital for making the best use of their limited charitable dollars.

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