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10/14/2016 12:00 AM

U.S. Cellular’s philanthropy is focused on education, with a special emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.


U.S. Cellular is the fifth-largest full-service wireless carrier in the United States, providing wireless phone service to about 5 million customers in about two dozen states, mostly in the Midwest and the South. Its products and services are sold direct to consumers, through its website and through about 270 retail locations, and include a variety of phones and tablets, mobile messaging, prepaid calling, international long distance, mobile Internet and directory assistance services, among others. In 2015, the company reported nearly $4 billion in sales and employed about 6,400 workers.


U.S. Cellular’s philanthropy is focused on education, with a special emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs serving K–12 students in the communities where it does business. The company provides a mix of cash and in-kind donations, employee volunteerism and matching gifts for employee contributions to eligible charitable groups.

U.S. Cellular has two national nonprofit partners—the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and National 4-H Council—that provide STEM programming throughout its communities and help prepare students to make a positive impact in their schools and communities.

The company also encourages its employees to give their time and money to worthy charitable causes. During its most recent companywide Month of Giving in April, U.S. Cellular employees volunteered more than 3,900 hours with local Boys & Girls and 4-H Clubs across its footprint. It works with to connect its employees with nonprofits whose program areas and activities best match employees’ skills and interests.

In addition, through its matching gift program, the company matches employees’ charitable donations to nonprofit organizations dollar for dollar, up to $2,500 per year.

For more information, visit the company’s website.

Workplace Giving
10/2/2016 12:00 AM

A new workplace giving program from Global Impact allows workers to contribute to personal accounts that can be invested, saved or donated anytime.

Companies with employee giving campaigns have a new option to offer their workers that provides the advantages of a donor-advised fund without some of the drawbacks. Growfund, a program offering by Global Impact, allows workers to contribute to personal accounts that can be invested, saved or donated anytime, just like a typical DAF. But since Global Impact is backing the program with its own funds, the minimum investment amount that most DAFs require—often many thousands of dollars—don’t apply, the organization said, making it more amenable for employees who want to make small, incremental contributions to charity.

“Growfund allows employees access to their own personal foundation through their corporate workplace,” stated Ann Canela, vice president of Global Impact. “Employees can give through one-time, recurring or payroll giving.“

According to the group’s representatives, the program allows workers to contribute to their accounts directly via the website or via payroll deductions, if the company has it set up to do so. The accounts can be accessed by the employee anytime, from anywhere, and are portable, meaning that they follow the worker should he or she change companies. There are no fees to the employee, who has a choice of some 800,000 charities to direct the funds to—the full roster of 503(c)(3) organizations rated through Guidestar are eligible for the program, and the website links to Guidestar’s reports for each one to aid Growfund account holders in evaluating which charity to support.

The funds are managed by a third-party brokerage, and investment options currently amount to a money market account and the Vanguard 500 Index Fund. Account holders can allocate their funds between the two as they wish, and can change those allocations at any time. In the future, the group said, the program will give account holders a greater range of options to choose from, depending on the amount of risk they are willing to take.

There are several ways in which companies can offer the service to their employees. The simplest option is to endorse it, spread the word and encourage workers to utilize it as one of several methods for supporting the causes they care about. There’s plenty of material on the website that companies can distribute to their workers that give the ins and outs of the program, the benefits of using a DAF instead of direct donations to charity and instructions for getting started. The onus would be on the employees to set up their accounts and make donations out of pocket as they see fit. This is entirely free for all involved, the organization told Corporate Philanthropy Report.

The next level up, however, comes with a cost. For $5,000, businesses can get what’s called a “white label” version of the program that allows it to be branded by the company—instead of Growfund by Global Impact, for example, it could be XYZ Corp Growfund (or something similar), which offers the same level of service and options as above but provides the company more exposure and visible connection with the program in the eyes of its employees.

The third option costs $10,000 and includes the white label version plus all supporting services available to set up and administer an automatic payroll deduction program. According to Global Impact, the $10,000 price tag is relatively low compared to other programs and makes Growfund more feasible for small and medium-sized businesses.

“Corporations can offer employees access to an additional strategy for financial wellness alongside their retirement plan,” Canela said. “And with money being invested with the first dollar, employees can be an extension of the company’s corporate citizenship and build their personal legacy.”

For more information on the program, visit

9/28/2016 12:00 AM

Columbia’s charitable giving is focused largely on protecting the outdoors through conservation and environmental education.


Columbia Sportswear is a leader in the global outdoor and active lifestyle apparel, footwear, accessories and equipment industry. In addition to the flagship Columbia brand, the company markets a range of products under the Mountain Hardwear, Sorel, prAna, Montrail and OutDry brands. The company’s products range from weatherproof parkas, jackets and footwear to sleeping bags, backpacks and tents. Its products are sold in approximately 100 countries around the world. Last year, the company reported sales of about $2.3 billion and employed about 6,000 workers.


Columbia’s charitable giving is focused largely on protecting the outdoors through conservation and environmental education. The company has established several long-term partnerships with prominent environmental groups and provides a mix of grant funding, product donations and employee volunteer support.

Some examples of the company’s support include:

  • The Conservation Alliance. This group of outdoor industry companies disburses its collective annual membership dues to grassroots environmental organizations. As a Pinnacle Level Member, Columbia contributes $100,000 annually to The Conservation Alliance and its mission to protect wild places for their habitat and recreational values. Additionally, Columbia employees have the opportunity to vote on which Conservation Alliance projects they would like to see funded biannually, influencing final funding decisions.
  • The Grassroots Outdoor Alliance. Columbia annually partners with the Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, a group of independent outdoor retailers across North America, to identify local conservation and outdoor education projects most in need of grant funding through the Columbia/Grassroots Belay Grant Program. Past funded projects include youth climbing camps, tallgrass prairie restoration and national park conservation work. Since the grant program was established in 2012, Columbia has provided over $400,000 in the form of cash and product donations to more than 85 local nonprofit projects identified by Grassroots members.
  • The Ocean Foundation. Columbia has partnered with The Ocean Foundation since 2010, providing cash and product donations to support the group’s marine habitat conservation efforts around the world. Examples of recent supported projects include sea turtle monitoring in Cuba, coastal conservation education for elementary students in San Diego and marine biology training for indigenous communities in Mozambique, Panama, Mexico and Australia. Columbia was also a lead supporter of the SeaGrass Grow campaign, which seeks to raise awareness about the critical importance of seagrass to marine ecosystems. Through monetary and product donations, Columbia actively works with The Ocean Foundation to enable continued restoration of seagrass beds, which are home to dozens of animals, including fish, shellfish, eels and seahorses.
  • The American Hiking Society. Columbia is a long-term partner of the American Hiking Society and official sponsor of National Trails Day. The company supports the AHS through product donations for programmatic needs and cash contributions. And it encourages its customers, employees and friends to support National Trails Day, the first Saturday in June, by joining an event or stewardship project.
  • Big City Mountaineers. Columbia is a long-term partner of Big City Mountaineers and shares its commitment to getting kids outside. Columbia supports Big City Mountaineers through annual donations and innovative campaigns such as the Try Columbia and Introduce Urban Teens to the Outdoors initiative. This campaign asked consumers to “try on” a pair of Columbia shoes at select retail stores, and in return Columbia donates $5 toward Big City Mountaineers. This donation directly supports Big City Mountaineers and their work to provide wilderness opportunities to under-resourced teens while instilling self-awareness and personal responsibility. In 2015, Columbia provided over $50,000 in cash and product donations to the group.
  • The Outdoors Empowered Network. This group works to connect young generations to nature by breaking down barriers to access by offering outdoor leadership training to adult mentors and providing schools and youth service organizations access to local gear libraries. Columbia supports the Outdoors Empowered Network and its member organizations through cash contributions and product donations to fill gear libraries with Columbia gear.
  • The Children & Nature Network. This group works to connect children, their families and communities to nature through innovative ideas, evidence-based resources and tools, broad-based collaboration and support of grassroots leadership. The C&NN news service and portal,, offers parents, youth, civic leaders, educators and health care providers access to the latest news and research in this field as well as practical advice, including ways to apply their newfound knowledge at home, at school, in work environments and in the community. Columbia supports the Children and Nature Network programming through annual cash and product donation support.
  • The National Park Foundation. As a multiyear partner of the National Park Foundation and official outfitting sponsor for the NPF’s Find Your Park Expedition, Columbia works to connect all Americans with the natural, historical and cultural heritage preserved by the National Park System. Since 2013, Columbia has partnered with the National Park Foundation, the American Latino Heritage Fund and REI to provide immersive national park experiences for young, urban multicultural communities. Columbia provides financial and product support for these initiatives.
  • The Association of Outdoor Recreation and Education. Columbia supports the AORE’s mission to provide opportunities for students in the field of outdoor recreation and collaborate with individuals and organizations on issues facing the outdoor industry. Additionally, Columbia works directly with colleges and universities such as the University of Oregon, Oregon State University and Portland State University, providing product donations for the purposes of expanding gear libraries and increasing outdoor access for college students.

In addition to these efforts, Columbia supports various humanitarian initiatives and disaster relief efforts around the world. For example, Columbia partners with Mercy Corps to help people weathering natural disasters, poverty and conflict. This support has included providing the company’s Insect Blocker and Omni-Shade technology to outfit field staff, as well as donating apparel to support relief efforts.

The company also works with reputable nonprofit organizations such as OXFAM, UNICEF and the American Red Cross to disburse monetary and product donations where most needed in response to disaster events. Most recently, Columbia Sportswear Company has supported disaster relief efforts in Nepal, the Philippines and the U.S. Midwest.

The company also leverages the generosity of its employees to further its charitable goals. Its volunteer policy, annual volunteer fairs and coordination of departmentwide volunteer projects are aimed at enabling its workers to provide meaningful support to their communities. Each Columbia employee is awarded 16 paid volunteer hours per year, to be used for volunteer activities. And the company provides a matching gift for employee cash donations to charity, up to $1,000 per year per employee.

For more information, visit the company’s website.

News Briefs
10/28/2016 12:00 AM

The MasterCard Foundation has launched a new partnership to promote financial inclusion for at least two million smallholder farmers in Kenya and Rwanda.

The MasterCard Foundation has launched a new partnership with KCB Group, East Africa’s largest commercial bank, to promote financial inclusion for at least two million smallholder farmers in Kenya and Rwanda. The two companies have each set aside $15 million for the program, which will provide critical funding for smallholder farmers and pastoralists in the largely unbanked agricultural sector in the two countries. Specifically, the funds will be spent on mobilizing and training of smallholder and pastoralist farmers on financial literacy and business management to improve on production and stock management, extending mobile financial services to smallholder farmers, conducting research and facilitating cross-learning between producer organizations. In addition, KCB Group will extend at least $200 million to farmers in the two countries in affordable loans over the next five years. That program, dubbed KCB MobiGro, aims to reach farmers—60 percent of whom are women—in the dairy, livestock and food subsectors in the two countries.

News Briefs
10/24/2016 12:00 AM

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture received five $2 million corporate sponsorships to support the museum’s grand opening.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture received five $2 million sponsorships from Bank of America, Kaiser Permanente, Prudential Financial Inc., Target and Toyota to support the museum’s grand-opening celebrations and inaugural events. Each is a founding donor of the museum, and the sponsorship of the museum’s opening represents additional support for the museum, which occupies a prime location in Washington, D.C., on the National Mall at the corner of Constitution Avenue and 14th Street, across from the Washington Monument. The nearly 400,000-square-foot museum will be the nation’s largest and most comprehensive cultural destination devoted exclusively to exploring, documenting and showcasing the African-American experience.

News Briefs
10/21/2016 12:00 AM

The CME Group Foundation has awarded $3.6 million in grants under the second phase of its Early Math Education Initiative.

The CME Group Foundation, the charitable giving arm of CME Group, which operates the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, has awarded $3.6 million in grants under the second phase of its Early Math Education Initiative. The initiative, first established in October 2010, is a multiyear effort to enable young children from low-income communities to develop proficiency in math. The new grants, which will be distributed over three years, will be allocated to scaling up programs for professional development and family engagement in early math education, as well as pilot investments in pre-service teacher preparation and influencers of early math policy. The grants will serve young children ranging from infants to fifth graders within public, charter and parochial schools; child care centers; and home-based providers; among others.


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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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