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1/20/2017 12:00 AM

Colonial Life’s corporate giving program includes support for education, health and wellness, and arts and culture programs in its communities.


Colonial Life is a leading provider of financial protection benefits through the workplace, including disability, life, accident, dental, cancer, critical illness and hospital confinement indemnity insurance. The company’s benefit services and education, innovative enrollment technology and personal service support more than 80,000 businesses and organizations, representing more than 3 million of America’s workers and their families. Founded in 1939, Colonial Life is now a subsidiary of Unum Group.


Colonial Life’s corporate giving program is largely focused on groups and programs that benefit Richland and Lexington Counties in South Carolina. The company focuses on three program areas:

  • Public education. K–12 public education receives the bulk of the company’s philanthropic investments. Colonial Life partners with public schools and business and community leaders to:
    • Focus on achievement and innovative educational experiences.
    • Mentor youth through organizations like Boys & Girls Clubs, Junior Achievement and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
    • Collaborate with business and community leaders to impact education at the local and state level.
  • Health and wellness. The company supports organizations that provide programs and services to improve the wellness of individuals and communities. This includes support for organizations that help people with disabilities lead independent and fulfilling lives.
  • Arts and culture. The company supports arts and cultural groups and events that contribute to a vibrant community. This includes support for groups that provide opportunities for students to use artistic venues and institutions to connect classroom curricula with real-world experience.

Colonial Life also offers several programs that encourage and reward generosity and community service among its employee ranks. The company matches employee donations of up to $10,000 per employee, per calendar year. That includes matching gifts on a $2-for-$1 basis to accredited colleges, universities, graduate schools and secondary and elementary schools within the United States and Canada. Gifts to other qualified nonprofit organizations are matched $1 for $1.

The company also has an employee participation program under which the company awards a $50 grant on behalf of Colonial Life employees who participate in an approved event, such as walks, runs and bicycle rides.

Further, Colonial Life offers a volunteer service grant program for employees. Under this initiative, the company awards $1 for each hour an employee volunteers, from a minimum of 50 hours ($50) up to 500 hours ($500) per year. An employee may report volunteered hours accumulated from a single and/or multiple eligible organizations and combine those hours to meet the minimum volunteer requirement.

Further information is available on the company’s website.

1/10/2017 12:00 AM

Thermo Fisher Scientific’s giving is devoted to science, technology, engineering and mathematics education and inspiring students to pursue careers in those critical areas.


Thermo Fisher Scientific is a leading manufacturer of analytical instruments, equipment and other laboratory supplies for clients around the world. The company’s product line includes gas chromatographs, spectrometers and other instruments for environmental chemistry and life sciences marketed under brand names like Thermo Scientific, Applied Biosystems, Invitrogen, Fisher Scientific and Unity Lab Services. It serves clients in health care, pharmaceuticals, biotech and related fields. In 2015, the company reported sales of about $17 billion and employed roughly 52,000 workers.


Thermo Fisher Scientific’s philanthropy includes a mix of corporate cash and product contributions and grantmaking via the Thermo Fisher Foundation for Science to support a variety of charitable groups and causes.

Much of the company’s giving is devoted to education—science, technology, engineering and math education in particular—and inspiring students to pursue careers in those critical areas.

The company has established partnerships with several leading nonprofit groups—including Citizen Schools, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Enactus—to support a range of STEM-related activities, including extended after-school learning opportunities for kids in inner-city schools, training for teachers in advanced placement classes and mentoring of college students through entrepreneurship competitions.

The company’s Innovation Nation program connects students with Thermo Fisher employees who inspire them to make a difference in the world by pursuing one of many available career paths in STEM.

Alongside this program, the company created a special STEM-credible Kit Program to address the shortage of supplies for students doing hands-on science in schools. The kits include personal protective equipment so students can conduct experiments in a safe and fun environment.

A substantial portion of the company’s contributions are in-kind. It donates a range of scientific equipment to nonprofit groups worldwide, who use the equipment to support researchers in developing countries, advance research into personalized medicine and promote STEM education through hands-on activities in laboratories.

For example, the company donated a mass spectrometer system and a liquid chromatography system to Students 2 Science. These instruments will enable the group to perform high-level quantitation of their routine laboratory analysis while providing the functionality and flexibility to expand their scientific research efforts and methods.

Thermo Fisher Scientific also encourages its employees to support worthy charitable causes in their communities through a matching gift program that offers a 50 percent match for employee contributions to charity.

Visit the company’s website for more information.

1/2/2017 12:00 AM

Due diligence is key to cultivating successful partnerships with celebrities, athletes and other high-profile supporters.


While many corporate charities might only see the upside in having a marquee celebrity supporter serving as their brand ambassador, drawing attention and donations to a new charitable program or partnership they are launching, there are some risks involved that could make such an association more trouble than it’s worth, experts say.

According to Drew Hawkins and Melanie Schnoll Begun, who handle philanthropic investments for high-profile, high-net-worth clients at Morgan Stanley, it’s important for companies and their charitable partners alike to understand the nuances of bringing on board athletes, entertainers and other high-profile individuals who can offer star power, cash and connections.

“If it’s not done right, it can actually do more harm than good,” said Begun.

In their work with a wide range of athletes, entertainers and their associated charities—including the likes of Goldie Hawn, Christy Turlington and the Amy Winehouse Foundation—Hawkins and Begun have learned the importance of due diligence before partnering up with a high profile supporter.

“There needs to be an honest discussion about the level of commitment the individual has for the cause and organization,” Begun said. If their heart’s not really into it, a celebrity might regret attaching their name to a group or project, she said. They might not fulfill the responsibilities they signed on for—in terms of appearances and fundraising support, for example. In the end, the foundation or nonprofit partner may be worse off because it wasted time and resources on an investment that didn’t pan out.

“Too often, not enough time is spent establishing expectations at the outset,” said Begun. “Both sides need to be really clear—this is a business relationship.”

Corporate charities also need to better understand the intricacies of celebrity philanthropy. According to Begun, where individuals are in their career cycle has a big impact on how they manage their philanthropy. When they first start out, they often will focus their attention on a cause they have a personal connection to, and leverage their new popularity to draw attention to it. But as their careers mature, their focus transitions to establishing a legacy that will endure after their star power has waned.

There’s also a big difference between how an actor or musician approaches philanthropy and how an athlete does so. According to Hawkins, most entertainers have had their careers develop over the course of many years, and their fame and level of influence has risen gradually. Marquee athletes, on the other hand, often see their stars rise literally overnight, and the results can be chaotic, he said.

“Many of these athletes are quite young and suddenly find themselves with a lot of money and high popularity,” Hawkins said. They want to do something to give back to their communities, often aimed at helping provide education or economic opportunity in areas where there was none when they were coming up. While that’s admirable, they might not understand how much it will cost in terms of time and resources, he said.

“The risk is that they overcommit—they sign on for all kinds of different charities and causes, and their star power gets a little diluted,” Hawkins said. “Their financial commitment might also be bigger than they considered as well.”

According to Hawkins, due diligence on the part of corporate charities and their nonprofit partners should start with a philanthropic audit to see what past commitments the individual may have made, and they should weed out anyone who seemingly endorsed or partnered with a charity but weren’t effective advocates. Did they headline a fundraising gala but then disappear from the field? Or have they remained a public supporter of the group and worked to spread its message far and wide? While there are times when the former is fine, the latter is usually the better of the two.

One thing to note: Just because an athlete or entertainer might be in the spotlight doesn’t mean he or she is comfortable with public speaking and, most importantly, asking others for money. According to Begun, many celebrities don’t instinctively understand how to tell a convincing personal narrative that connects with the cause or issue they are championing.

“This is a fundamental expectation—that they will help with fundraising,” Begun said. “But while they may be great at what they do, they are not great at asking for money. Many need some help and training in that to be effective.”

For more information, Hawkins can be contacted at and Begun can be reached at 


News Briefs
1/23/2017 12:00 AM

New data compiled by the Foundation Center and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy show that $22.5 billion in grants was awarded in 2014 disaster-related giving.

New data compiled by the Foundation Center and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy show that some $22.5 billion in grants was awarded in 2014 disaster-related giving by a broad range of donors, including foundations, governments, multilateral donors, corporate giving programs, online giving platforms, donor-advised funds and more. For their third annual report on this topic, Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy 2016: Data to Drive Decisions, the groups gathered data from eight sources worldwide, including the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, among other sources. Among its many findings, the report shows that large U.S. foundations devoted $225.7 million to disaster-related funding in 2014, with 70 percent, or $157.6 million, dedicated to fighting the Ebola outbreak that began in West Africa.

News Briefs
1/18/2017 12:00 AM
Patagonia is awarding over $10 million to grassroots organizations working in local communities to protect air, water and soil for future generations. 

Following on its pledge to donate 100 percent of its global Black Friday sales to charity, outdoor apparel company Patagonia is awarding over $10 million to grassroots organizations working in local communities to protect air, water and soil for future generations. According to the company, the final figures far surpassed initial expectations of $2 million in sales, via in-store and online purchases. The proceeds will be awarded to small nonprofit groups, “often underfunded and under the radar, who work on the front lines,” in environmental conservation and protection, the company said. Patagonia also plans to provide information in its stores and on its website about how its customers can get in touch with these groups and support their work in their own local communities.

News Briefs
1/16/2017 12:00 AM

The Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation has launched a new initiative, dubbed Fill Your Tank, that will provide $60 million to address food insecurity around the globe.

The Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation has launched a new initiative, dubbed Fill Your Tank, that will provide $60 million to address food insecurity around the globe. The foundation will provide a total of $10 million annually over the next six years, divvied up as follows: $2.5 million to Feeding America to help fight hunger among seniors and children; $1.5 million to Food Banks Canada to support operations and infrastructure in food banks across Canada; $1 million to The Global FoodBanking Network to expand the work of food banks around the world, especially food banks in the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany and Spain; and $5 million to local food banks and pantries in communities served by Enterprise. Beyond donations, the company is supporting the initiative with a hunger awareness campaign and through local engagement. Specifically, the awareness campaign will feature stories of what is possible when people are running on a “full tank” — that is, when they have enough to eat. The stories will be featured on the Enterprise website and its social media channels.


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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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