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9/22/2016 12:00 AM

BASF directs its corporate giving to support nonprofit groups and programs in key areas of scientific education and local community improvement.


BASF Corporation is the North American subsidiary of German chemical powerhouse BASF SE. The company manufactures a vast array of chemicals and associated products for use in a wide variety of products and industrial processes. Key industries served by the company include chemicals, automotive, agriculture, construction, personal care, health and nutrition, packaging and consumer products. The company has more than 100 production and research and development sites throughout North America. In 2015, the company had sales of about $17.4 billion and employed more than 17,500 workers in North America.


BASF directs its corporate giving to support nonprofit groups and programs in two key areas:

  • Science education. As a leading chemical company, BASF recognizes the importance of engaging students in science at an early age and supports numerous initiatives that further that goal. Some examples include:
    • Kids’ Lab. BASF developed its global Kids’ Lab program to encourage children ages 6–12 to gain a better appreciation of and interest in the dynamic world of chemistry. Kids’ Lab is designed to provide a fun, hands-on learning experience for children, teachers and caregivers. Participants explore chemistry through safe and engaging experiments, coupled with interactive Q&A sessions and demonstrations.
    • Kids X-Press. Since 2011, BASF has partnered with Kids X-Press magazine to enhance science education literacy and create a custom science magazine written entirely by kids. Children between the ages of 6 and 18 are encouraged to submit science-related articles, poems, drawings, games and photographs for a chance to be featured. The special BASF edition of Kids X-Press magazine is distributed to local schools and museum partners across the United States.
    • The You Be The Chemist Challenge. BASF is a national sponsor of the You Be The Chemist Challenge, which is provided through the Chemical Educational Foundation. This is a national academic science competition where students in grades 5–8 are quizzed on various chemistry concepts in a fun and educational format. BASF volunteers support local schools with this science education program and mentor student competitors in Alabama, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Iowa, Virginia and Texas.
    • BASF Science Academy. The BASF Science Academy works to develop the technology-based workforce of the future by exposing students to advanced science, business applications and potential careers in chemistry. In partnership with Fairleigh Dickinson University, BASF hosts a two-week summer residential program for 20 outstanding high school students between their junior and senior year. Students graduate from the program with two transferable college science credits from FDU and life experience that will help them to prepare for their future in higher education.
    • BASF TECH Academy. The BASF TECH Academy offers 11th- and 12th-grade students hands-on activities reinforcing skills needed in technical disciplines and allows students to interact with industry professionals who provide insight into potential careers.
    • Team Chemistry. This program emphasizes working together with key industry and academic partners to achieve common goals and a sustainable future. Some examples include Louisiana State University, with which BASF has partnered to create career and educational opportunities for engineering students in the LSU College of Engineering; and the University of Texas at Austin, with which the company has partnered to develop a solution to make UT athletics events more sustainable.
  • Local community improvement. BASF supports a variety of groups and programs that improve the quality of life in the communities where its employees live and work. These efforts combine corporate cash contributions and employee volunteerism and other support. Some recent highlights of BASF’s community relations activities across the North America region include:
    • The United Way. The company and its employees at its Geismar and Zachary sites in Louisiana contributed $228,000 to the local United Way affiliate in 2014. The total donation included proceeds from sponsorships, event fundraisers and corporate and employee pledges made by BASF during the 2013–2014 campaign, marking a $50,000 increase over the previous year’s efforts.
    • TOTAL Miracle Match for Life. The 12th annual BASF and TOTAL Miracle Match for Life golf tournament raised more than $114,000 for three charities that provide lifesaving health services for people in Southeast Texas—the Gulf Coast Marrow Donor Program, the Julie Rogers Gift of Life Program and LifeShare Blood Centers. Hundreds of golfers (including BASF and TOTAL employees), volunteers and spectators enjoyed a day of sports and community fellowship at Brentwood Country Club in Beaumont, Texas, with food and beverages for the tournament donated by area businesses.
    • The Brazosport Regional Health Foundation. BASF’s facility in Freeport, Texas, recently donated $500,000 to the Brazosport Regional Health Foundation. The contribution is part of the foundation’s $5 million capital campaign, which will fund major renovations to the hospital. The renovations include redesigning patients’ rooms and nurses’ stations, constructing a new emergency room and other enhancements.

For more information, visit the company’s website.

9/8/2016 12:00 AM

J.C. Penney’s philanthropy is focused on education, military veterans, breast cancer research and disaster relief.


J.C. Penney Company is the holding company for nationwide department store chain J.C. Penney Corp. As one of the nation’s largest apparel and home furnishings retailers, J.C. Penney has over 1,000 store locations across the United States and Puerto Rico, offering a broad assortment of apparel and household products from a leading portfolio of private, exclusive and national brands. Once a leading catalog retailer, J.C. Penney has exited the catalog business in favor of expanding its e-commerce segment. In 2015, the company reported sales of about $12.6 billion and employed about 105,000 workers.


J.C. Penney’s charitable giving takes many forms. The company offers traditional grantmaking through a private foundation, direct corporate support in the form of merchandise and used office equipment, and also raises funds from its customers to distribute to a variety of nonprofit partners. In all cases, the company directs the bulk of its support to the following program areas:

  • Education. The company supports several education-oriented groups, including:
    • Little Kids Rock. This national nonprofit is dedicated to unlocking children’s inner music-makers by revitalizing music education programming in public schools. Little Kids Rock provides instruments to schools, trains public school teachers and provides resources for classrooms and students’ use outside of school. J.C. Penney’s support funded the purchase of over 1,600 instruments during the 2014–2015 school year alone.
    • Young Audiences Inc. This organization works with educational systems, the arts community and private and public sectors to provide arts education to children. The company awarded this group a $300,000 grant to support the expansion and enhancement of their arts-integrated literary program, Arts for Learning. With the company’s support, Young Audiences was able to provide grants to 12 affiliates to refine, implement and assess their A4L program in schools and community centers nationwide.
  • Military veterans and their families. J.C. Penney supports numerous veterans services groups, including the USO, Carry the Load and the George W. Bush Presidential Center Military Service Initiative. It also funds Boys & Girls Clubs–affiliated youth centers on U.S. military installations, providing safe space, adult mentors and a variety of youth development programs to children of enlisted men and women.
  • Breast cancer. The bulk of the company’s funding in this area goes to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and other organizations working to develop methods for preventing, diagnosing and treating breast cancer.
  • Disaster relief. The J.C. Penney Company Fund, the company’s private foundation, awards grants in response to major natural disasters. For example, in 2013, it awarded $300,000 to the American Red Cross to support Superstorm Sandy relief and other programs, and awarded smaller grants to Save the Children and Habitat for Humanity to support relief efforts in the Philippines and India after severe storms and flooding.

Other ways the company supports charitable causes include:

  • JCPenney Cares. JCPenney Cares is a registered nonprofit organization committed to helping children succeed by keeping them safe, healthy and engaged beyond the classroom. The group supports local and national nonprofit organizations that provide youth enrichment opportunities outside of school.
  • JCPenney Cares is funded primarily through donations made by J.C. Penney’s customers. At key times throughout the year, the company invites customers to give back by rounding up their in-store or online purchases to the nearest dollar. All funds raised are donated to local and national programs providing resources and opportunities for youth.

  • The Golden Rule Relief Fund. This is a financial hardship fund that enables J.C. Penney employees to weather emergencies and unforeseen situations. Seeded with $100,000 from the company, it is now funded through employee donations.
  • In-kind donations. Through a partnership with VolunteerNow, J.C. Penney donates millions of dollars’ worth of merchandise and office equipment and supplies, which are sold at steep discounts to nonprofit partners via VolunteerNow’s Donated Goods Discount Depot.
  • Employee giving. J.C. Penney employees support their favorite charities through payroll deductions, which added up to $2.45 million between 2013 and the end of 2014. These donations go to support local United Way affiliates, JCPenney Cares, the Golden Rule Relief Fund and other charities of interest to individual employees.
  • Employee volunteerism. The company’s workers logged almost 80,000 hours of volunteer service in 2014. Those hours were rewarded through a dollars-for-doers program that awards $150 grants to organizations with which an employee volunteers at least 10 hours during a calendar quarter. There is also a companywide volunteer month in April where J.C. Penney stores across the United States coordinate employee volunteers to support worthy charitable groups and causes in their local communities.

Additional information is available on the company’s website.

9/2/2016 12:00 AM

Companies need to accommodate their nonprofit partners’ requirements to screen employee volunteers, which is becoming more common.

As companies are increasingly drawing on their employee volunteer programs to augment their philanthropy and community outreach, they are bumping up against another trend in the sector: Nonprofits are ratcheting up their volunteer screening requirements, for a variety of reasons, leaving some corporate giving departments wondering what their role should be in the process.

Corporate Philanthropy Report recently spoke with Katie Zwetzig, executive director of background screening company Verified Volunteers, to see how these two trends intersect, and the impact they will have on corporate volunteerism.

Q: How common is it for nonprofits to screen their volunteers? How about from corporate employee volunteer programs?

A: About 80 percent of organizations screen their volunteers, up from about 60 percent three years ago. Our 2016 Research Report shows 57 percent of the responding organizations screen all of their volunteers. Contrast this to employee programs where 80–90 percent are screened.

Q: It seems it is becoming more commonplace. What is driving the increase?

A: Organizations are more savvy and their employees are better educated around risks, program management and best practices. We also see that insurance companies often require some level of screening. Additionally, technical advances have made screening less cumbersome for organizations.

Q: Is there any evidence that screening can turn people off to volunteering?

A: Our experience is that volunteers expect to be screened, and expect those that they volunteer with to be screened. Occasionally we hear about organizations that want to implement a screening program and are concerned about going back and screening current volunteers. That becomes a culture issue.

Our experience within the CSR model is that the organization will drive the type of check required, not the corporate program.

Volunteers have mentioned that they are frustrated with multiple screens—one for their church, one for their school, for instance—which is why they love the portability of our check.

Q: Regarding corporate employee volunteer programs and their nonprofit partners, who should be responsible for the screening? The company or the nonprofit?

A: Today, the organizations have the burden of ensuring a safe environment for their stakeholders, as it is their program and reputation. We do see some really great collaborations where a corporate partner will pay for the checks. We are starting to see more of that as corporations improve their engagement programs. These corporations realize that criminal activity can happen after the original hire date and that screening prior to sending an employee out to volunteer in the community is critical.

We also see interest in our portable check from corporations who want to send a clear message to their new hires about their focus on community engagement. Welcoming a new employee and providing them a background check that they can share with an unlimited number of nonprofits (we call it the Volunteer Fast Pass) sends a strong message. This is the mission of Verified Volunteers—to build communities of vetted volunteers and reduce the time and cost in multiple screenings.

Q: What is the best screening system (or combination of systems) to use?

A: The best screening uses a multitude of products that search criminal records and sex offender registries and use a number of locator tools to find geographies where the volunteer lived, worked and played. Position-specific products like driving records, abuse registries and references should also be added. Our recommendation is to do as much as you can given budget and time restraints. Relative to systems and processes, organizations need to be sure that their processes are compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act as well as any other federal or state laws. A good screening partner can help ensure compliance and should work closely with the organization to educate the organization on the various laws and responsibilities.

While the screening process should be streamlined and user-friendly, we recommend that organizations not make it too simple. The volunteer should have some skin in the game. Organizations we work with tell us that when that is the case, the volunteers are more committed.

Q: What are the benefits of outsourcing this task to a third party, as opposed to trying to do it in-house?

A: As mentioned above, a strong screening partner will understand the laws and regulations of an organization given their geography and the population they serve. Outsourcing takes a large part of the burden off the organization and certainly can provide peace of mind. Third-party screeners can often provide results in a more cost-effective way as well, due to lower pricing (economies of scale), streamlined systems and lower administrative charges.

Criminal records are not easy to understand, and terminology varies state by state. The burden of understanding a report, making certain that the report ties to the volunteer in question (think common names) and making the correct decision on the volunteer based on the report falls solely on the organization when a third party is not involved. This increases the risk of a lawsuit, volunteer frustration and lost donations if the organization does not adjudicate correctly.

For more information on screening options, Zwetzig can be reached at Verified Volunteers at (855) 326-1860, or visit the company’s website at

News Briefs
9/24/2016 12:00 AM

Wells Fargo, through its nonprofit partner the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, has awarded nearly $2.6 million to support environmental projects.

Wells Fargo, through its nonprofit partner the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, has awarded nearly $2.6 million in grants to 61 organizations in 22 states to support land and water conservation, energy efficiency and broad-based citizen participation in communities where Wells Fargo customers and team members live and work. The Wells Fargo Environmental Solutions for Communities grant program represents a five-year, $15 million collaboration with the NFWF, and is part of Wells Fargo’s commitment to provide $100 million in grant funding by 2020 to nonprofits and university programs focused on environmental sustainability. Launched in 2012, the program awards grants to local organizations to promote environmental stewardship and strengthen communities across the United States. Over the life of the program, grantees will have restored more than 83,000 acres of habitat, planted almost a million trees and engaged hundreds of thousands of community members in environmental protection activities nationwide.

News Briefs
9/21/2016 12:00 AM

The National Football League has awarded a multiyear, $10 million grant to three leading sexual violence prevention organizations.

The National Football League has awarded a multiyear, $10 million grant to three leading sexual violence prevention organizations to support the creation of Raliance, a collaborative initiative dedicated to ending sexual violence in one generation. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center, the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault-PreventConnect and the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence have joined together to compose the new entity. Each of the three organizations will take on a unique and critical role in leading Raliance. The NSVRC will head Raliance’s efforts to promote effective, clear and consistent communication around sexual violence; CALCASA-PreventConnect will drive prevention programming, with an initial focus on the role of sports and athletics; and the NAESV will manage the development of effective public policies, organizers said.

News Briefs
9/17/2016 12:00 AM

The Mary Kay Foundation has awarded grants totaling $1.3 million to support cancer research.

The Mary Kay Foundation has awarded grants totaling $1.3 million to support cancer research at 13 top medical schools and research facilities nationwide. The grants of $100,000 each will support a wide range of critical research, from enhancing immune recognition of breast cancer using small molecules to precision imaging diagnostics to detect and target metastatic progression in breast and ovarian cancer, as well as researching new therapies for triple-negative breast cancer, the foundation said. The grants bring the foundation’s total investment for the fight against cancer to $25.2 million since its inception in 1996.


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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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