Philanthropic Corporations Provide Homeless Help

Non-Profits Profit From Profitable Corporations’ Philanthropy

Even with the current economic woes, some international corporations have discovered their philanthropic efforts engender customer approval and loyalty.

Corporate philanthropy is when a profit-making corporation supports the efforts of non-profits by providing money, equipment, or staff. It’s not a new idea, it’s just that companies are looking for new ways to improve their image while increasing customer satisfaction and faithfulness.

Corporations Provide Many Different Kinds of Philanthropic Paths

Employee matching funds are one of the ways that companies help non-profits. For every dollar an employee donates to an approved organization, his or her employer will double it. Some companies will multiply it, giving two or three dollars to each one contributed by the employee. Many companies offer this as a payroll deduction plan.

Another way of doling out money is charity grants. They are often awarded based on a grant application package. An eligible non-profit must complete the grant application and then patiently wait. Some companies review the applications in house.

The Walt Disney Company has been supporting charities for more than 60 years. Cast members — the Disney name for employees — who want to help with company-sponsored charitable efforts are called VoluntEARS. They serve many kinds of charitable needs, but they help the homeless in two specific ways: working with local homeless care providers they have holiday parties, and employees make CarePacks for the homeless.

Homeless Help as a Strategic Plan not Just a Sense of Social Responsibility

Not all corporate philanthropy is based on heartstrings that have been tugged. Harvard Business School’s Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness teaches corporations to approach philanthropy from a strategic perspective.

An affiliated organization, The Center for Effective Philanthropy, states on their website that their mission is to, “Provide data and create insight so philanthropic funders can better define, assess, and improve their effectiveness and impact.“

It’s not surprising with such advice that some large corporations prefer to funnel their philanthropic efforts through their own foundation. In 2009 the following organizations — a partial list — dished out millions to help the homeless:

  • The healthcare giant, Kaiser Permanente,
  • Wal-Mart Foundation, and in addition, employees through the State Councils donated more than 90 million pounds of food,
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation,
  • Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust,
  • Pohlad Family Foundation, and
  • Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

See the current issue of the online Philanthropy News Digest to learn who is giving what to which charity.

Hands-on Corporate Sponsorship is a Significant Factor in Help for the Homeless

Like many other Seattle corporations, employees from Microsoft take over the Seattle Operation Nightwatch kitchen to prepare dinner for 200 or more hungry homeless people once a month. Cooking, serving, cleaning up, or paying for the food — everybody can help. Local companies also donate funds to help with the costs of providing bedding.

To meet the increasing need for homeless housing in the San Diego area, a combination of faith-based organizations, social groups and the City of Vista combined forces to create Operation Hope Vista. An old warehouse was rented and rehabilitated and each winter provides housing for up to 49 people.

One of the things that makes this shelter unique is that it is only for families. One or both parents with at least one child can be assigned a permanent space where they may live the entire cold season; if, they follow the shelter rules. This permanency allows the children to attend local schools, build and maintain friendships, and have a social life while the parents work or look for a job.

A San Francisco organization supporting the homeless, Glide Memorial Methodist Church was featured in the 2006 hit movie, “The Pursuit of Happiness”. The church offers a variety of services to poor and marginalized people.

In many cities, international faith-based, non-profit organizations like The Salvation Army and Catholic Charities provide free resources ranging from meals to housing, job training to used clothing.