America's Businesses Lead the Way in Giving

May 15, 2016

Walmart Foundation.jpg

Walmart has been one of the most generous corporations in America. Source: Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana via Flickr.

Takeaways

America is a generous country, and the nation's business community is fully vested in philanthropic efforts.

America remains the most generous and philanthropic country on earth. We believe strongly in the service ethic—using private charity to help people and communities in need and improve life at home and abroad. 

The U.S. business community is a fully vested partner in the nation’s philanthropy. It is a major source of charitable cash and in-kind contributions. As a formal means of funding social good on a regular and long-term basis, many major U.S. corporations have established large charitable foundations.

In fact, the vast majority of the top 50 foundations in the United States are corporately sponsored. Over the past two years foundations have invested over $2.7 billion into a constellation of life-improving causes and charities, according to the Foundation Center, which tracks worldwide philanthropic giving. 

By and large these institutions have highly strategic missions and ambitious goals:

In the retail sector, the Wal-Mart Foundation focuses its funding on projects and charities that bolster economic opportunity, foster environmental and resource sustainability, and strengthen “the resilience and cohesion of local communities and inspiring associates to give back.”

The Novartis Patient Assistance Foundation, one of many charitable arms sponsored by pharmaceutical companies, provides needy individuals whose medications aren’t covered by insurance with free pharmaceuticals. Last year it gave away $547 million of medication at no cost, helping more than 61,000 patients in the United States.

The Wells Fargo Foundation, the leading founding in the financial services sector, sponsors national and regional giving programs focused on “providing resources that address local environmental projects, support innovation and advance clean technologies…support for low- to moderate-income homeownership…and to improve the quality of life for children and families living in low-income neighborhoods.” 

The Caterpillar Foundation aims “to alleviate poverty and place people on the path to prosperity” around the world. It partners with premiere NGOs, including the American Red Cross, Feeding America, the Global Poverty Project, The Nature Conservancy, One, and United Way to meet the needs of the most vulnerable.

The Intel Foundation funds a wide variety of initiatives at home and abroad to “fuel tomorrow’s innovation through Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education … Inspire and empower women and underserved youth to realize their potential … (and) Inspire and enable Intel employees to meet the needs of their communities.”

 The vast majority of the top 50 foundations in the United States are corporately sponsored. Over the past two years foundations have invested over $2.7 billion into a constellation of life-improving causes and charities.

The list of foundation goes on and so does the good. It comes as no surprise that corporate foundation giving is about more than checking the corporate social responsibility and public relations box, it also happens to be good business.  Our best companies understand the symbiosis of strong, cohesive communities and prosperous enterprise.  Without vibrant human capital, strong families, and healthy communities supported by effective charities and social support, businesses and the economy can’t flourish; and without strong enterprises that generate jobs and payrolls, useful products, services, and solutions, tax revenue, and charitable resources, communities can’t thrive. Corporate foundations are an important catalyst in the virtuous circle of private action and public good.