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1/8/2015 12:00 AM

MassMutual focuses its charitable giving on education and economic development programs that enhance the quality of life in areas where the company does business.

OVERVIEW

Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance, commonly known as MassMutual, is a leading life insurance and investment management firm. In addition to providing whole life insurance, MassMutual also offers a range of products to help meet the financial needs of its clients, such as disability income insurance, long-term care insurance, retirement/401(k) plan services and annuities, among others. The company’s major subsidiaries include Oppenheimer Funds, Baring Asset Management, Babson Capital Management and Cornerstone Real Estate Advisors, which collectively offer mutual funds, asset management and other investment products and services to primarily North American clients. In 2013, the firm reported revenue of about $27.5 billion and employed around 27,000 workers.

GIVING

MassMutual focuses its charitable giving in two areas where it feels it can have the biggest impact: education and economic development. The company supports both local and national programs, although the bulk of its contributions go to groups and projects that serve its home-office communities of Enfield, Conn., and Springfield, Mass.

The company’s support for education initiatives includes a number of in-house programs as well as partnerships with national nonprofit organizations. These include:

  • LifeBridge Free Life Insurance. The company’s LifeBridge Free Life Insurance Program provides $50,000 term life insurance policies free of charge to eligible parents or guardians to support the education of surviving children. If an insured parent or guardian dies during the 10-year term, a $50,000 benefit funds a trust to help pay their children’s educational expenses. As of the end of 2013, the company has provided more than $660 million in free life insurance coverage across the country.
  • MassMutual Career Pathways. The company’s Career Pathways Program helps raise awareness among high school students by providing information to those students, their parents and educators regarding careers at MassMutual and within the financial services industry. The program connects eligible students to MassMutual scholarships, skills training and development, mentoring, internships and opportunities for employment.
  • MassMutual Academic Achievement. Eligible high school students in Springfield, Mass., who maintain a B-or-better average for four consecutive marking periods are recognized as MassMutual Academic Achievers. Achievers become eligible for incentives to help them continue their academic success, including free access to the PSAT exam, workshops on college admissions, financial aid and career exploration. MassMutual Academic Achievers have access to the Career Pathways services as well. In 2013, more than 700 Springfield high school students earned recognition as MassMutual Academic Achievers.
  • MassMutual Scholars. One component of the Career Pathways Program is the MassMutual Scholars Program, where eligible students interested in careers in financial services can apply for one of 40 $5,000 renewable MassMutual scholarships. Scholarship recipients are also eligible to apply for internships at MassMutual that will provide them with hands-on experience in the financial services industry.
  • Junior Achievement. MassMutual employees and financial professionals across the country share their business knowledge by volunteering their time with Junior Achievement. In 2013, the company’s employees assisted in educating more than 8,000 students through JA.

The company’s efforts in the area of economic development are focused almost exclusively on programs that benefit the city of Springfield. MassMutual supports a number of initiatives to help drive development projects in the city. These include:

  • The State Street Alliance. Working closely with city officials, MassMutual helped convene a group of more than 50 property owners, academic institutions, community-based organizations and neighborhood groups to form the State Street Alliance. This group’s primary mission is to develop, promote, support and implement a comprehensive economic development strategy for the State Street corridor, a 3.2-mile central artery of the city.
  • DevelopSpringfield. The company supported the creation of DevelopSpringfield, a nonprofit group formed with the purpose of developing and implementing creative revitalization strategies, land assembly and development, all of which support residential, commercial and/or industrial development opportunities.
  • HOME. The company’s Home Ownership for MassMutual Employees (HOME) program was created to provide full-time employees of MassMutual and its subsidiaries the opportunity to realize their dream of homeownership in Springfield. The program provides education and information on various aspects of homeownership, access to materials and services, and annual awards of forgivable loans of $7,500 or $10,000 to qualified employees.

MassMutual also provides substantial support to the United Way. Through its annual Fall Pledge Drive and special events, the company and its employees contributed $2.5 million to the United Way in 2013. MassMutual employees also reach out to nonprofit organizations in their communities, offering their time and energy on an annual United Way Day of Caring, which encompasses a wide variety of volunteer service activities.

For further information, go to the company’s website.

Industry News
1/4/2015 12:00 AM

A new Center for Effective Philanthropy study shows nonprofits need more funding to assess how well their programs are meeting the needs of their beneficiaries.

New research shows that foundations are not providing sufficient funding for their nonprofit partners to gather feedback from beneficiaries and gauge how well they are serving their needs.

The research, conducted by the Center for Effective Philanthropy, finds that most nonprofits are engaged to some extent in soliciting that feedback, but a lack of financial resources and few staff with the requisite skills and knowledge to do so are hindering those efforts. Roughly three out of five nonprofits surveyed by the group said a lack of resources was a key challenge to accurately assessing how well they were addressing the needs of their beneficiaries. And the bulk of nonprofit leaders say their foundation funders don’t thoroughly understand the needs of those they intend to help, and that their funding strategies reflect that lack of understanding.

According to Ellie Buteau, CEP vice president for research, gathering feedback from those who utilize nonprofit services can be invaluable in charting a way forward and improving upon the delivery and effectiveness of those services.

“The perspectives of those that nonprofits and foundations strive to help can be some of the most important in building projects and programs that are effective and bring significant positive change to individuals and communities,” Buteau said in announcing the research.

In that way, it is quite similar to the business sector, she told Corporate Philanthropy Report.

“Just as companies care to hear from their customers how well their products are meeting their needs, so too should funders care to hear how the nonprofits they support are meeting the needs of their beneficiaries,” she said.

According to Hearing from Those We Seek to Help: Nonprofit Practices and Perspectives in Beneficiary Feedback, which draws upon surveys of hundreds of charities conducted by the CEP, nearly all nonprofits are collecting feedback from their “customers” in some way—the most common being collecting stories from individuals (92 percent), followed by self-administered surveys (87 percent), systematic interviews (54 percent) and focus groups (39 percent). About 70 percent say they have made changes to their programs or services in response to such feedback—which should, in theory, lead to better, more efficient programs. Taken a step further then, the thinking goes that funders that provide grants or other support—say, skilled volunteers with expertise in customer service evaluations—are engaging in more effective philanthropy by directly funding efforts to solicit beneficiary feedback.

Given that, one might think funders are keen to support these activities. However, Buteau said, that’s not the case. Just about half of nonprofits reported that they had gotten any kind of support from their foundation funders to solicit feedback from the intended recipients of their programs and services.

According to the report, directing additional resources for these programs would do more than just increase the number of nonprofits soliciting feedback: It could very well lead to higher-quality—thus more useful—knowledge. That’s because the most common methods used right now—collecting individual stories and self-administered surveys—rely on beneficiaries to report their experiences directly to nonprofit staff, which may “limit the candor and utility of the feedback they receive,” the report states.

In other words, the recipients of social services or other charitable programs may be too uncomfortable to provide feedback that is critical of those services or those who provide them, thus potentially skewing the results. Getting around that—by using third parties to conduct feedback solicitation and evaluation services—requires resources that nonprofits are lacking, the report said.

According to Buteau, the perception among nonprofit leaders that funders lacked a solid understanding of their ultimate beneficiaries’ needs was an eye-opener, as was the high proportion of nonprofits who said that lack of understanding led to mismatched funding priorities and programmatic strategies. That’s because previous research conducted by the group found that most foundation executives—more than 80 percent—believed the opposite: that their limited understanding of the ultimate beneficiaries was not a barrier to the foundation’s ability to make progress in the focus areas.

Those divergent viewpoints are a cause for concern but could be addressed by directing more funding to feedback assessments, according to CEP President Phil Buchanan.

“Our research shows a disconnect between foundations and their grantees when it comes to listening to the people whom both groups are seeking to help,” said Buchanan, who co-authored the report. “Foundation strategies will be most effective when they are informed by those who will be affected.”

For more information, or to access the report in full, go to www.effectivephilanthropy.org.

12/23/2014 12:00 AM

Harris Corp. focuses its philanthropy on improving education and the health and wellness of residents in the communities where it does business.

OVERVIEW

Harris is a leading international communications and information technology company serving government and commercial markets in more than 125 countries. The company’s products include radio-frequency, satellite communications and wireless network transmission equipment, much of which is used in air traffic control systems and other municipal and commercial settings, with clients coming from the energy, health care, maritime, oil and transportation sectors, among others. For 2014, the company reported sales of roughly $5 billion and employed about 14,000 workers worldwide.

GIVING

Harris offers a combination of direct corporate contributions and foundation grantmaking in support of nonprofit groups operating in communities where it has business operations.

Education is the company’s most significant funding area, by far. The company seeks to motivate and inspire youth to study science-, technology-, engineering- and math-related fields through a variety of educational initiatives and mentoring programs.

Many Harris employees, including executives, work with local schools and youth programs as mentors and tutors, teaching interactive technology workshops and speaking about STEM careers.

At the university level, Harris works to create world-class learning environments by providing scholarships and endowments, supporting student organizations, sponsoring special events and encouraging employee participation on advisory boards.

STEM education is also the primary funding area of the Harris Foundation, which supports a number of charitable organizations nationwide. In addition to education, the foundation provides some support for local civic, cultural, and health and welfare organizations as well.

The foundation also administers Harris’ matching gift program, which provides a dollar-for-dollar match for employee cash contributions to eligible charities.

The company also provides two scholarships to children of Harris employees who qualify as finalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program.

Additionally, the company and its employees work to bolster the health and wellness of their communities through the United Way. Harris employees and retirees across the United States participate in annual fundraising campaigns for United Way affiliates in their local communities, and Harris supports those efforts through corporate contributions and support for employee volunteer service and fundraising activities.

For additional information, visit the company’s website.

News Briefs
1/27/2015 12:00 AM

Johnson & Johnson has committed $10 million to Save the Children under a new partnership addressing children’s health challenges.

Pharmaceutical and health care products manufacturer Johnson & Johnson has committed $10 million to Save the Children as part of a global partnership that hopes to help millions of children over the next three years. According to Save the Children, the commitment will cover core mission support, program support to improve newborn survival, local activation and gift-in-kind services. In addition, Johnson & Johnson will continue to support Save the Children through nonmonetary channels, including through advocacy/thought leadership, media/awareness building and employee engagement, among others, the group said. The partnership will involve the company’s entire global footprint, and will expand upon its prior support relating to newborn survival, the group said.

News Briefs
1/20/2015 12:00 AM

The New York Life Foundation has pledged a total of $1.4 million to 48 bereavement organizations serving grieving, disadvantaged children across the country.

The New York Life Foundation has pledged a total of $1.4 million to 48 bereavement organizations serving grieving children across the country. The grants, awarded under the foundation’s Grief Reach initiative, will be given over a two-year period and range from $10,000 to $100,000. Developed in collaboration with the National Alliance for Grieving Children, Grief Reach supports grief providers’ efforts to broaden their services to reach diverse and disadvantaged youth not served by existing bereavement programs. So far, 111 Grief Reach grants totaling nearly $4 million have been awarded since the program’s inception in 2011, the foundation said.

News Briefs
1/8/2015 12:00 AM

The Ecolab Foundation has awarded $2 million to The Nature Conservancy to support the group’s work in securing and restoring water sources around the globe.

The Ecolab Foundation, the philanthropic arm of water, hygiene and energy technologies firm Ecolab Inc., has awarded $2 million to The Nature Conservancy to support the group’s work in securing and restoring water sources around the globe. The support is part of the company’s newly launched Solutions for Life initiative, which builds off the company’s work to conserve water and improve hygiene around the world through new partnerships, global philanthropy and employee volunteerism. This three-year commitment to The Nature Conservancy expands upon Ecolab’s 25 years of support to the organization’s work in Minnesota and, for the first time, focuses on water conservation globally, with initial projects in China and Mexico. More specifically, the grant will support land and water conservation activities in Minnesota; strategies to protect water resources in Shanghai, where more than 24 million people depend largely on the Yangtze River for their water needs; and expanded efforts in the metropolitan area of Monterrey, Mexico, to reforest and implement other conservation methods to help slow the flow of water upstream from the city and provide clean water for Monterrey.

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  • Meet the Editor

    Nicholas King
    Editor

    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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