When it comes to corporate philanthropy, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.
As just one example, the Idaho Food Bank raises 65% of its annual funding from September to December. About 23% of the organization’s budget comes from corporate partners.
“The Idaho Food Bank is very fortunate to have great engagement from communities, including corporations, the year-round, but certainly during the holidays,” said Morgan Wilson, chief development officer for the Boise-based nonprofit. “Holidays, from our experience, bring out the generosity in people.”
The Idaho Beef Council and the Idaho Beef community donated beef to more than 260 families out of a mobile food pantry in Weiser.
“Each walked away with a variety of food that included beef protein,” Wilson said, including two 3-pound roasts. “They also received kiwi and apples and potatoes and all the fixings for a really wonderful meal.”
The “Beef Counts” program operates year-round among more than 200 partners through the state, serving roasts and hamburger, Wilson said.
“In 2017, the Beef Counts program provided 1 million servings of beef to the community,” she said.
Companies such as Micron and Albertsons also donated food during the holiday season.
Some companies donate funds throughout the year. Todd Hicks owns four Subway restaurants in the Treasure Valley and created the “Subway Day” fundraising program nine years ago “as a way to help out the schools that didn’t have lunchrooms.”
He organized a lunch ordering program once a week and returned some of the money earned to the schools.
“They get funds back for every meal that is delivered,” Hicks said.
This year, that amounted to roughly 30,000 meals, which raised $45,000 for the 17 participating schools, primarily in the West Ada School District.
“Instead of the parents buying cookie dough or popcorn or whatever they do for fundraising, they’re ecstatic that they get to do Subway,” he said.
Some companies leave it up to employees to guide corporate giving. At the Lamb Weston Foundation, for the second year in a row, all 7,000 employees were provided with $50 to direct to an eligible charity, said Shelby Stoolman, senior director of communications and president of the Eagle-based foundation.
That would amount to $350,000 if the organization had 100% participation, which is its goal, Stoolman said.
“We have a lot of workforce not sitting at a computer every day,” she said. “It can be a little challenging to get them onto the system.”
Last year, the company achieved 60%, for a total of around $210,000, she said.
The organization chose this method because it wanted corporate giving to be meaningful to employees, Stoolman said.
“Employees connect the company to the cause of hunger, because of food, which makes sense, but for their own personal money and time, the focus was on a lot of other places,” she said.
Major recipients include the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, which received $25,000 last year, she said.
In the “teach a man to fish” department, some organizations donate equipment rather than money or food.
Fatbeam, a Coeur d’Alene fiber optic company in 32 markets in seven Western states, partnered with Volunteers in Medicine Clinic of the Cascades, a Bend, Oregon, nonprofit, to provide gigabit fiber optic internet to help power VIM’s electronic health record system, EPIC. Fatbeam donated monthly networking and maintenance fees for the next five years, in addition to some construction and equipment fees, totaling $41,700.
Similarly, Idaho Central Credit Union, based in Chubbuck, recently donated $450,000 of computer equipment to Idaho State University’s Information Technology Systems, in Pocatello, when it updated its data center. The school will be able to use the equipment in lab activities.
First Interstate Bank has a goal of donating 2% of its income before taxes, and sometimes they have money left at the end of the year, said Jeff Huhn, Boise metro market president.
“We drove the proverbial ‘big check’ around a lot the past few weeks.”