Philanthropy is an essential component of modern society, and while individuals comprise a large percentage of that needed charitable giving, businesses can make a big difference in whether charities do well or fail. Although business and capitalism often seem closely related to one another, a number of businesses go to great lengths to give back to their communities and to serve the needs of those less fortunate.
The following are five companies that have demonstrated a commitment to using their financial success to lift up impoverished individuals and families in the United States and around the world.
As bullying has become a hot-button issue in schools and among parents across the country, Sears is taking action to combat bullying among school-aged children. The department store company recently unveiled “Team Up to Stop Bullying,” an anti-bullying program designed to provide solutions to both parents and students.
The program provides valuable resources to children, parents, school counselors and educators, with a long-term goal of reducing the 13 million annual instances of bullying by 50 percent.
Goldman Sachs has taken an interesting approach to contributing to the greater good. Through a partnership forged through a partnership endorsed by New York City major Michael Bloomberg, Goldman Sachs is contributing money to an initiative known as the Social Impact Bond. Although Goldman Sachs could turn a profit in an ideal situation, the program is designed to reduce taxpayer costs by having corporations post bond for individuals accused of various crimes, thus keeping them out of jail and off the tabs of the public.
Goldman Sachs has contributed nearly $10 million into the program, and while it could turn a profit, it could just as easily be forced to absorb a loss.
TOMS shoes has a rather ambitious goal of donating a pair of shoes to needy third-world individuals for every pair of TOMS shoes it sells in developed nations. The company recently surpassed the one million mark — selling one million pairs of TOMS shoes and donating one million to needy individuals. The company is now expanding into eyewear donations.
When measured by cash and product giving, Pfizer has given more than any other company in the past year. The pharmaceutical giant gave more than $2.3 billion dollars in donations in 2009, which equaled about 24.2 percent of its profits from the year before. Several pharmaceutical companies ranked high in terms of charitable giving, but Pfizer led the way both in dollar amount of their donations and the percentage of profits given away.
As the largest grocery store chain in the United States, Kroger has made significant philanthropic efforts, donating $64 million in 2010 — the equivalent of more than 10 percent of their profits from 2009. Kroger has specific donation and charitable vehicles established and is an active member of the Food 4 Less program. The company also works with the Salvation Army to allow donation kettles to be set up outside its stores, and it recently raised $1.5 million to support military families.
With so many businesses competing for the same customers, it can be useful as a consumer to understand what the business is doing for you outside of providing you with a product or service. You may be more obliged to shop at a store that invests back to your community or aids the less fortunate rather than funneling money into a company that keeps its revenues for itself. That type of behavior from consumers could positively reinforce businesses and offer further encouragement to use their profits to make the world a better place.
Holly is an Indianapolis native who enjoys blogging on behalf of brands like Sears. In her spare time, she volunteers at a local food pantry to do her own part in giving back.
Picture Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sears_PDN.jpg