March 05, 2013
Corporate & Foundation Forum Panelists: We Give to Specific Causes
The message from panelists was crystal clear during USC’s inaugural Corporate & Foundation Relations Forum, hosted Feb. 28 in Columbia’s downtown Marriott by the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations.
And that message is: Those who seek funds from corporations—through their foundations or other giving entities—need to tailor their funding requests to the specific aspirations of each corporation. Elaine Delk
, the office’s executive director and forum facilitator, said the message is framed “within a changing landscape of corporate and foundation relations.”
Social responsibility is a major driving force for each corporation. Gone are the days of corporate-backed golf outings to hash out funding priorities. As six panelists conveyed, their aspirations vary—from improving health care to opening new avenues for achievement in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), to community development, job creation, and supporting education in general, including higher education.
Specific to Health Care: BCBSSC Foundation Helps the Uninsured
One panelist was particularly adroit at summing up the corporation’s viewpoint on giving: “We work with the uninsured population in South Carolina. If we can’t tie a gift from our foundation to the uninsured population, we’re not going to do it. It’s that simple,” said Harvey Galloway
, executive director of the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation.
A bit more complex, Galloway said, are BCBSSC Foundation’s seven focus areas that improve health care and healthcare access: childhood/adolescent health, community health, health care/free medical clinics, mental health, nursing issues, prevention of obesity, and research. A 43-year BCBS employee, Galloway said his own “passion” among the seven areas is free medical clinics, which the foundation has enhanced through a $5.5 million grant to the South Carolina Free Clinics Association. One of the goals is to certify the centers, which number nearly 50.
Specific by Necessity: Time Warner Focuses on STEM
Time Warner Cable’s specific focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) has occurred through necessity, said Rose Dangerfield
, TWC’s director of communications. In South Carolina and elsewhere, the company is moving from cable to broadband platforms, and with their “Baby Boomer” workforce retiring, those equipped with skills to work in the field for the foreseeable future is far from sufficient.
TWC has embarked on a five-year, $100 million Connect a Million Minds Initiative, an effort to boost American children above ranks that are 25th in mathematics (out of 34 developed countries), and 17th in science, Dangerfield said. Locally, TWC has provided a STEM-related grant to Carolina through a Cyber Saturdays program for area middle school students. One Saturday each month, they visit IT-oLogy at Innovista to engage in games and projects ranging from building an Ethernet to bridging gaps in binary code. “Our program is designed to provide hands-on experience to inspire kids,” she said.
Matching Program for Employees: A Great Way to Give
Among Colonial Life's four focus areas, one with a significant “opportunity” to benefit Carolina is the employee matching program, said Kara S. Addy
, assistant vice president of branding and communications. Colonial Life matches employee gifts to nonprofits on a 1-to-1 basis—unless employees give to education. Then it’s a 2-to-1 match, up to $7,500 per calendar year.
Colonial Life also prioritizes corporate giving/investment, with half of that investment going to education (mainly K-12); employee volunteerism; and special projects such as disaster relief and the Harvest Hope Food Bank. Founded in Columbia and getting set to celebrate its 75th anniversary next year, Colonial Life is most receptive to “robust partnerships” that result in “win-win on both sides,” Addy said. As with most corporations, sponsorships are also possible.
Bank of America Focus: ‘Housing, Jobs, and Hunger’
Within the past two years, Bank of America has started to focus its priorities on what it considers critical need areas, said Christine Ruiz
, a company market manager in South Carolina and Florida. Like Galloway, she emphasized how crucial it is that fundraising professionals adhere to Bank of America priorities in order to have any hope for funded projects.
“It’s housing, jobs, and hunger,” Ruiz said of the bank’s priorities for private giving. “Those are our three platforms. If your strategy doesn’t fit within housing, jobs, or hunger, it’s not going to fit our strategy.” A major push involves initiatives that help people become self-sufficient.
Literacy’s Benefits to a Trained Work Force
Reversing the trend that will see 630,000 South Carolinians lack the skills needed to fill jobs by the end of the decade is a major focus of the Central Carolina Community Foundation, said David Laird
, its director of community impact. The foundation, which serves 11 midlands counties and has given $90 million to the region over the past 30 years, has implemented a Literacy 2030 Initiative. The foundation supports innovative organizations that pledge to deliver measurable, sustainable impacts within the community, he said.
Last year, CCCF provided $10.3 million to worthy causes. “We ask, we listen, we act,” Laird said. “As a community foundation, we recognize that we must be flexible enough to serve the needs of the community.”
Wells Fargo: Gift to USC Expands Higher Education Opportunity
Four years ago, Wells Fargo formed social responsibility groups to concentrate on corporate giving, said Susan Bankson
, Wells Fargo community affairs officer for South Carolina. Last year alone, the company gave more than $315 million to more than 19,000 nonprofit organizations. Wells Fargo employees also logged over 1.5 million volunteer hours.
Wells Fargo’s two priority areas for giving are community development—from affordable housing to job workforce development—and education. One educational focus areas is supporting merit-based access to higher education for under-represented groups, which gave Wells Fargo a chance to impact Carolina last year.
Wells Fargo made a gift of $210,000 benefiting more than 100 USC students, which included Gamecock Guarantee scholarships, Business at Moore scholarships for high school juniors attending the popular summer program, and academic support for Athletics at the Dodie Anderson Academic Enrichment Center.
Bankson, who said “there are fewer than 50 people (at Wells Fargo) who do what I do,” sees the difference corporate giving can make in higher education. “We really enjoy trying to get more involved with the students who receive our scholarships, to build relationships there, however we might be able to help them,” she said.
Corporate representatives also attending the inaugural Corporate &Foundation Relations Forum were Beth Wingard
, BB&T business service officer in Columbia, and Jessica R. Jackson
, global corporate citizenship representative at Boeing South Carolina.
–Larry Di Giovanni, Development Communications