Nowadays, just about every big company gives at least some money to charity every year, in a whole host of different ways. Not all of them donate very much, but the amount that some of these companies donate is astronomical.
You may not realize it, but look up just about any food company and they’ll have an entire department dedicated to nothing but charity. In the fast food market alone, McDonald’s has its Ronald McDonald House, Wendy’s has its Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Burger King has the McLamore Foundation, and In-N-Out has its Child Abuse Foundation, and each have donated millions to their chosen cause. Several large food companies even have an entire “philanthropic wing,” like Smithfield’s Smithfield-Luter Foundation, which has awarded nearly 200 scholarships since 2002, worth more than $2.5 million.
Even if a company doesn’t run its own charity, it will usually donate to a handful of them or choose one to work with every year. For example, for the past few years Heinz has partnered with Wounded Warrior Project and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of the charity. Companies donate to charity for a whole host of reasons; the cynical note that it’s great for PR and a tax write-off, but many companies do in fact feel an obligation to “give back” and support the communities that helped make them successful.
According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, the companies that donated the most cash in 2013 include Wal-Mart ($311.6 million), Wells Fargo ($275.5 million), Chevron ($274.3 million), and Goldman Sachs ($262.6 million). While no food companies were quite so generous in their donations (largely because their pretax profits come nowhere close to these behemoths’), you’d be surprised at the amount of money that food companies give away; not all the profits go toward lining the pockets of their shareholders after all.
The Campbell’s Soup Foundation has been providing “financial support to local champions that inspire positive change in communities throughout the United States where Campbell Soup Company employees live and work” since 1953. Every year, they donate about $1 million to “a variety of organizations that focus on community wellbeing, youth empowerment and economic sustainability programming which support the development of a healthy community,” with an emphasis on their hometown in Camden, NJ.
Ben and Jerry’s
In 1985, Ben & Jerry’s board of directors agreed to set aside 7.5 percent of the company’s pretax profits to philanthropy, and even after their 2000 acquisition by Unilever they still keep that promise. In 2013, this amounted to $2.5 million donated by the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation.