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5/19/2016 12:00 AM

Blue Buffalo’s corporate giving includes support for pet cancer research and promotion of pet adoption.

OVERVIEW

Blue Buffalo is a leading manufacturer of all-natural dog and cat food. The company’s flagship BLUE brand includes wet and dry foods and treats made with meat, fruits and vegetables—with no by-products or artificial ingredients—catering to health-conscious pet owners. The company’s main product line started as a home remedy for founder Bill Bishop’s dog, Blue, which reportedly developed cancer but recovered after eating Bishop’s formula. In 2014, the company reported sales of $917 million and employed about 1,700 workers.

GIVING

Blue Buffalo offers a mix of corporate giving and grantmaking through the Blue Buffalo Foundation for Cancer Research, which was established in 2003 to support universities and clinics engaged in research into the causes, treatments and prevention of dog cancer and cat cancer.

The foundation supports all areas of cancer research, including the use of superior nutrition and all-natural dog food in a preventative context.

The foundation expanded its reach in 2009 when it launched a partnership with pet products retailer Petco for an annual Pet Cancer Awareness Month. Every May, the retailer asks its customers to make a donation at any Petco or Unleashed by Petco register, or to donate via the Blue Buffalo or Petco websites, with the goal of raising millions of dollars every year for pet cancer research.

The funds are distributed to organizations like the Morris Animal Foundation, the National Canine Cancer Foundation and others who are doing cutting-edge research on treatment advancements and helping find a cure for this disease. Funds are also provided to organizations that help defray the high cost of treatments for families who may not have otherwise had the means to afford their pet’s care.

In addition, the company supports a number of initiatives aimed at promoting the adoption of dogs, cats and other companion animals. From October through January, it sponsors the Helen Woodward Animal Center’s Home 4 the Holidays program, with the ultimate goal of seeing one million companion animals adopted. Every animal adopted through this program will get an adoption kit loaded with coupons and product samples from Blue Buffalo.

And each year on the fourth Thursday of September, the company sponsors Remember Me Thursday memorial events in remembrance of the millions of animals who have lost their lives without having known what it means to have a loving home. The events draw animal advocates from across the globe who take part in a candle-lighting ceremony to raise awareness of homeless and orphan pets.

For more information, visit the company’s website.

5/10/2016 12:00 AM

Freddie Mac’s philanthropy is focused on connecting citizens with resources that help them recover from the housing crisis and thrive.

OVERVIEW

Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp., more commonly known as Freddie Mac, was established by Congress in 1970 to provide liquidity, stability and affordability to the nation’s residential mortgage markets. Freddie Mac supports communities across the nation by providing mortgage capital to lenders. It does this by purchasing mortgages from originating lenders and then packaging them for resale, which mitigates the risk and allows lenders to provide mortgages to individuals who may not otherwise qualify. Today, Freddie Mac backs one in four single-family home mortgages and is the largest source of financing for multifamily housing. In 2015, the company reported revenues of just over $63 billion and employed about 5,400 workers.

GIVING

Freddie Mac strives to make a positive difference in the communities it serves by connecting citizens with resources that help them recover from the housing crisis and thrive. The company supports a wide range of groups and programs, with the bulk of its support going to the following focus areas:

  • Home preservation. The company works with local, state and national organizations to help borrowers keep their homes whenever possible.
  • In the wake of natural disasters, for example, the company works with its servicers and nonprofits to help families get the information, mortgage relief and services they need to get back on their feet and rebuild their lives.

    Freddie Mac participates in foreclosure prevention workshops in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Its Borrower Help Network is a national foreclosure prevention phone hotline that also proactively reaches out to delinquent borrowers to engage them in the loan workout process.

    And in partnership with numerous nonprofits, the company operates walk-in counseling centers in areas with significant concentrations of at-risk borrowers, including California, Chicago, Miami, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. These Borrower Help Centers go beyond traditional mortgage counseling to provide borrowers with holistic financial counseling that assesses all of the debt and credit issues affecting their ability to pay their mortgage.

  • Education. From financial literacy to fraud prevention, the company seeks to provide consumers with the tools and resources they need to make informed decisions about their credit, their money and their home. Some examples include:
    • CreditSmart. Freddie Mac’s multilingual financial education curriculum helps consumers build and maintain better credit, make sound financial decisions and understand the steps to sustainable homeownership.
    • Get the Facts on Homeownership. The company’s Get the Facts on Homeownership educational resources help break down barriers that prevent people from exploring the possibility of buying a home or keeping their home if they face foreclosure. These resources dispel common myths on homeownership and foreclosure in order to give consumers the knowledge they need to achieve sustainable homeownership.
    • Support for service members. The company supports the nation’s service members in a number of ways, including participating in workshops at military bases to help educate and counsel military personnel on buying and keeping a home.
    • Mortgage fraud prevention. Freddie Mac co-chairs the Loan Modification Scam Alert, a national public education campaign to help homeowners protect themselves against loan modification scams, find trusted help and report illegal activity to the authorities.
  • Promoting housing opportunities. The company strives to make homeownership and rental housing accessible and affordable for qualified low- to middle-income borrowers and those living in underserved communities. Some programs supported by the company include:
    • Workforce Home Benefit. Through this program, Freddie Mac works with employers and local organizations to provide financial assistance and education that helps employees become successful homeowners in the communities where they work.
    • Affordable rental housing. The company provides financing for affordable rental housing options for underserved communities such as seniors, students and low- to moderate-income families. For example, under the Targeted Affordable Housing Program, the company finances properties that receive federal or state support to help keep rents affordable for families with income levels at or below 60 percent of the local area median income.
    • The First Look Initiative. This program offers owner-occupant homebuyers the exclusive opportunity to buy a Freddie Mac–owned home in the first 20 days the property is listed without competition from investors.

These efforts are augmented by coordinated volunteer support from Freddie Mac employees, who serve with a variety of organizations in their local communities, including:

  • Year Up. As a member of Year Up, the company creates opportunities for low-income young adults to build a career and realize their maximum potential. In addition to the Freddie Mac Apprenticeships that are part of this program, Freddie Mac employees support Year Up students through mentoring, team building and the skills training they need to take the next step in their careers.
  • J.C. Nalle. For more than 20 years, Freddie Mac employees have been an integral part of the J.C. Nalle Elementary School located in an underserved Washington, D.C., neighborhood. The company’s workers have lent their time and energy to a wide variety of programs and activities, ranging from building a playground to being a pen pal, collectively volunteering thousands of hours to make a positive difference at the school and in the lives of J.C. Nalle students.
  • Habitat for Humanity. Year-round, Freddie Mac employees partner with Habitat for Humanity to support affordable homeownership opportunities for families in the area. Longtime participants of Habitat for Humanity in the National Capital Region, Freddie Mac employees play a role in bringing new homeowners to neighborhoods and strengthening the communities they live in.

For additional information, visit the company’s website.

5/2/2016 12:00 AM

Recent research shows that some types of corporate giving lead to greater employee engagement than others.

Recent research into the impact corporate giving has on a company’s workers shows that some types of giving lead to greater employee engagement than others—providing insight into how companies can maximize the business benefits of their charity.

The research, led by Emily Block and Michael Mannor from the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, first sought to benchmark whether—and to what extent—corporate giving leads to more engaged employees, a question that had been largely ignored in past studies.

“The opportunity to empirically investigate attitudes within a single organization required a large enough organization to allow for enough subunits for statistical comparison as well as an organization that allowed variation between subunits in their giving behavior,” Block told Corporate Philanthropy Report. “We were lucky enough to access these data, and our team of varied scholars were able to turn the standard question around philanthropy on its head to identify this unique opportunity.”

The researchers then looked at three specific strategies that organizations have used to enhance the impact of their giving on their workers:

  • Strategically targeting certain organizations as centralized targets for corporate giving.
  • Providing organizational direction for employee giving.
  • Providing opportunities for employees to interact with the beneficiaries of corporate giving.

Block and her team looked at corporate giving data from 53 offices of a large professional services firm in the United States collected from 2009 to 2011. This office-level giving data was then paired with large-scale survey data on the employee attitudes of over 14,000 workers at the firm during this time period.

Employee attitudes were measured using responses to a series of statements—“I am proud to say that I work for [my organization],” “I rarely think about looking for a new job with another organization,” “Overall, I would say this is a great place to work [organization],” “Overall, I would say this is a great place to work [work group]”—with which employees indicated their level of agreement on a scale of 1 to 10.

“We looked specifically at the attitude of emotional engagement,” Block said. “The benefits of emotional engagement have been well-documented by researchers and include task performance, organizational citizenship behaviors (non-task work behaviors) and improved moral judgment.”

The results showed the following:

  • Higher levels of corporate giving were indeed associated with higher average levels of employee attitudes, with data showing that giving during the year has a “positive and significant” influence on attitudes ratings at the end of that year.
  • The relationship between corporate giving and average employee attitudes was stronger when the beneficiaries of such giving are strategic for the entire organization, instead of being selected by employees themselves or chosen on the local level.
  • “Frankly, that finding was very surprising to me. I thought that local groups would connect employees with their philanthropic activity. However, our analyses suggest (but do not directly test) that beneficiary contact (having the chance to volunteer for, or at least see the positive effects of giving) is really the mechanism here,” Block said.

    He added, “My intuition is that it may also relate to the skepticism around directing money to pet causes, and that, as long as they are able to see the products of the donations, larger and more prominent charities alleviate the worry that the money is being spent on the office managers’ son’s hockey team.”

  • The relationship between corporate giving and employee attitudes is not really impacted when employees donate more of their own money to a company-supported cause, such as with companywide payroll giving campaigns.
  • “It is my inclination that employees have become accustomed to giving in this form, that it doesn’t hit their radar,” Block said. “I would suggest, rather than stopping these programs, organizations should make efforts to highlight the benefits of these programs, inviting the local chapters to give presentations or giving employees opportunities to volunteer.”

  • Corporate giving activities where employees have contact with the beneficiary organizations generally have a greater positive impact on employee attitudes than when employees have no contact or interaction. However, there is one big caveat to that: When a company gives little to an organization with which employees volunteer and otherwise support significantly, the results are reversed, the researchers found.
  • “In the case of charitable giving, providing opportunities for employees in less generous offices to see the recipients of their limited giving may do more harm than good,” the researchers explained in the report. “One potential reason for this is that faced with the unmet needs of charity recipients, employees may feel guilty in light of their office’s limited giving and perceive that their office is not doing enough to have an impact.”

Looking at the research in its entirety, Block said some simple conclusions can be drawn.

“Given the choice,” Block said, “firms should choose highly visible and reputable charities, centralize their donations and expose employees to the benefits of the firm’s contribution in order to get the most internal benefit from their philanthropic activities.”

For more information, contact Block at eblock1@nd.edu.

News Briefs
5/30/2016 12:00 AM

The United Health Foundation has awarded a $3 million grant to the University of Nevada at Las Vegas to create a new training program for medical students.

The United Health Foundation has awarded a $3 million grant to the University of Nevada at Las Vegas School of Medicine to create a new integrated training program for medical students. According to the foundation, the initiative comes as Nevada faces an extreme shortage of physicians and ranks in the bottom-five states in the number of doctors per 100,000 people. The grant will be used over the next five years to put in place medical education and course curricula, including population health and hospitality in health care. These programs will support the longitudinal integrated clerkship model, where the school’s third-year medical students will spend an entire year in an outpatient clinic taking care of patients under faculty and resident supervision. The grant also will support the building of three multispecialty community clinics that will offer a full complement of primary care and basic specialty-care services. These facilities will serve as the clinical training sites for the LIC model, the foundation said.

News Briefs
5/26/2016 12:00 AM

Software firm Oracle has committed $200 million in direct and in-kind support for computer science education in the United States.

Software firm Oracle has committed $200 million in direct and in-kind support for computer science education in the United States over the next 18 months. Oracle’s pledge, which was made in support of the Obama administration’s Computer Science for All initiative, is expected to reach more than 232,000 students in over 1,100 U.S. institutions through the Oracle Academy, its philanthropic CS-focused educational program that has thus far served more than 2.6 million students in 106 countries. Under the new commitment, Oracle will also work with K–12 schools, community colleges and four-year colleges and universities to support CS education by training more teachers in computer science, providing access to free Oracle software, expanding outreach to underrepresented populations, launching innovative courses in emerging CS fields, connecting world-class innovators with educators and students and driving efforts to ensure that CS counts as an academic credit.

News Briefs
5/21/2016 12:00 AM

ExxonMobil has awarded a $13 million grant to the National Math and Science Initiative to support the expansion of the group’s College Readiness Program.

ExxonMobil has awarded a $13 million grant to the National Math and Science Initiative to support the expansion of the group’s College Readiness Program in Louisiana schools. The College Readiness Program empowers school communities to improve participation and success in rigorous coursework to better prepare students for college and the science, technology, engineering and math careers of an increasingly competitive job market. With ExxonMobil’s support, the NMSI will partner with parishes across the state over the next several years to support teachers and improve student performance in the core subjects of mathematics, science and English language arts.

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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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