Companies Gain from Giving Back to Their Communities

Employees share stories about the way their organizations serve others through philanthropy.

By Desda Moss Nov 27, 2016
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It’s the season of giving and a good time to remember that generous employers often receive much in return. Corporate philanthropy can boost revenues as well as employee morale and engagement. In fact, the 2016 Cone Communications Employee Engagement Study found that nearly 75 percent of employees say their job is more fulfilling when they are provided opportunities to make a positive impact at work, and 51 percent won’t work for a company that doesn’t have a strong commitment to addressing social and environmental issues. Interest in making a significant social impact cuts across generations, and even small efforts can yield big gains.

We asked the HR community via social media how their organizations give back to the community—and here are some of your inspiring stories.


Off to the Races

Utica National Insurance does so much for the community! Throughout the year, we raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network in various ways and donate thousands of dollars in employee contributions. As part of this fundraiser, we have our executives push around snack carts selling items for $1. People love this! We also have "Duck Days," where we go to a nearby creek and race rubber ducks that employees purchase for $5 to win paid-time-off days and gift cards. We also take part in the UN Kids Run in July, which is paid for by the company. We have about 1,600 kids who participate. We also raise money for United Way throughout the year as well as sponsor food and gift drives during the holidays. During the water crisis in Flint, Mich., the company donated hundreds of cases of bottled water to residents who were in desperate need. I would say that one of the strongest and best qualities of our company and its employees is their generosity. I love working with such amazing people with such big hearts!

Lindsey Mandia, associate employment specialist, Utica National Insurance Group, New Hartford, N.Y.

A Bountiful Harvest

The Darden Harvest Program prepares surplus food that isn’t served in our restaurants and donates it to those in need. Darden owns and operates more than 1,500 restaurants across the country, including Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille and Yard House. We have restaurants in hundreds of communities, and we view giving back as an extension of our core values—and an essential part of being a good neighbor.

Danielle Kirgan, senior vice president, chief human resource officer, Darden Restaurant Group, Orlando, Fla.

The Gift of Giving

Match Game

When employees make donations to nonprofits, the company matches the amount up to $5,000 a year and allows employees to submit their requests until March 15 of the following year. Employees also get paid time off to volunteer. It’s great to work for a company that cares about the community.

Kim Gooden, HR generalist, Bank of America, Charlotte, N.C.

Reap What You Sow

We build community gardens and contribute a variety of resources to maintain existing gardens. We also support underprivileged communities by providing educational resources on topics ranging from gardening to more-complex projects. Our mission is to build a better world one community at a time.

Maritza Vega, director of human resources, Christy Webber Landscapes, Chicago

Grants for Good

Chevron’s Grants for Good Volunteer Program provides funding to nonprofits where employees and retirees volunteer on a regular basis. Twenty volunteer hours equals $500 in grants, and 40 hours translates to $1,000 grants. Chevron also donated $1 for every fill-up of eight or more gallons of fuel that consumers purchased at participating Chevron and Texaco stations from Oct. 1 through Oct. 31, 2016—up to nearly $6 million—to help fund materials and supplies for local public schools through a partnership with DonorsChoose.org.

Melissa Ritchie, communications advisor, policy, government and public affairs, Chevron, San Ramon, Calif.


Empowering Youth

Cox Communications has a long history of supporting the community through organizations such as the Boys & Girls Clubs, the Urban League and many others, and each year, the company gives millions of dollars and in-kind services to support the local communities it serves. Cox Charities, the charitable giving and philanthropic arm of Cox Communications, focuses its giving and leverages its business partnerships to accomplish more on behalf of children by awarding grants to qualifying organizations that serve young people through science and technology, mentoring, literacy, and other areas promoting youth education.

Ryan Lloyd, SHRM-CP, HR consultant, Cox Communications, Baton Rouge, La.

Crushing the Challenge

This year, our family-owned company that sells and services farm and construction equipment is celebrating its 110th anniversary. As part of our planning, I asked everyone on our 25-person team what they thought we should do to celebrate. Several employees suggested volunteering at various nonprofit organizations. Because all the ideas sounded great, we came up with a "110-Day Challenge." Our team members and their families committed to giving [a total of] 110 days of service (2,640 hours) to the charities of their choice. We created a chart with a cornstalk and added an ear of corn for every 240 volunteer hours completed. We recently finished 2,160 hours and are almost to our goal. The local organizations receiving volunteer help are happy, and employees are excited. More than 20 groups have benefited from the challenge, including a soup kitchen, animal shelter, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, local schools, youth sports programs, various church-based charities and several others. Our employees and their families were so excited to be a part of this challenge that it took off quickly.

Jason Orton, vice president and owner, Orton’s Equipment Co. Inc., Stratford, Calif.

Community Impact

To Your Health

We’re an international telecommunications and television company, and our "Employees in the Community" initiative gives workers an opportunity to raise money for their chosen charities. The "In Heroes" program supports employee volunteering with awards up to $40,000 per year. And our "In Givers" effort encourages employees to get involved in community and charitable activities by matching any funds they raise. In 2015, employees applied for donations amounting to more than $97,000 to support nonprofits, including over $35,000 raised for the Movember Foundation, a campaign to support men’s health research.

Rick Westerman, senior vice president, investor relations, corporate responsibility, Liberty Global Inc., Denver

Farm Aid

CalAgJobs partnered with the California Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee to raise money for Feeding America. One of our employees, Miranda Driver, designed a fun T-shirt that we sold online during September. We promoted it on our website, on social media and in our weekly e-mail newsletter. We raised enough to provide more than 15,000 meals! It was a great use of our skill set and caught the interest of our followers. We used the booster service available from Custom Ink, so they handled producing the shirts, delivery and collecting payment. They even sent the check directly to the charity. We do a lot of fun volunteer work, but this one was unique.

—Shannon Douglass, recruiter and consultant, CalAgJobs, Chico, Calif.

Brace for Impact

We volunteer throughout the year with Denver nonprofit Upstream Impact. We hold mock interviews for job seekers. It’s part of our mission to form strategic partnerships with our clients—and our community.

Nicki Cutler, executive recruiter,  Z1 Solutions Inc., Centennial, Colo.

Team Spirit

Guardian Credit Union’s motto is "People Helping People," so we pride ourselves on being present for citizens of the greater Milwaukee area, whether that be through raising money for charity, hosting an event within the community or volunteering our time. We host "Movies in the Park" in two local parks, where kids can do crafts while their parents enjoy the movie. Our current fundraiser involves having participating employees donate money in order to wear their Packer spirit clothing on game days. Go Pack Go!

Caitlyn Medlock, human resources coordinator, Guardian Credit Union, Oak Creek, Wis.

Ready for School

People in our Princeton, N.J., office filled backpacks for foster children ranging from kindergarteners to high school age. We had great support from individuals on the team and from teammates located in our Utah office who were willing to join the cause. Each child was given their own backpack with everything they needed to start the year off right.

Stacy Stetner, owner/president of HR Elevated LLC human resources consulting, Salt Lake City

Local Heroes

Charity Begins at Home

After the shootings at the nightclub in Orlando [in June 2016], our team members donated blood to help those who were injured. When we needed client gifts, we purchased Girl Scout cookies in bulk from our team members who had family members selling them.

Genevieve Smith, marketing manager, Modern Business Associates,
St. Petersburg, Fla.

Halting Hunger

We place recycling bins throughout the office, and when they are full, we exchange them and donate the proceeds to Long Island Cares Inc., a nonprofit that provides food and assistance to New York residents living in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

Porscha-Dior M. Williams, associate recruiter, ArroHealth, Hauppauge, N.Y.

Fixer-Uppers

Our company sponsors "Christmas in April" every year to serve community members in need. We help fix homes for those who don’t have the money or the hands to do it themselves. This past year, we helped an 80-year-old man fix his leaking bathroom pipes, replaced drywall, tiled floors and even helped give his cats a good grooming! All of the people we have assisted were greatly appreciative for the efforts of all our employees who spent time helping others.

Kaitlyn Redman, human resources assistant, Integrated Electrical Technologies Corp., Hollywood, Md.

Do you have an inspiring story to tell? Share it on SHRM’s LinkedIn company page.

Desda Moss is managing editor of HR Magazine.

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