Philanthropy among businesses and successful individuals has been seen since the rise of “big business” itself. In the late 1800s, business leader Andrew Carnegie owned a multi-million dollar steel enterprise and donated the majority of his fortune to philanthropic causes, such as the founding of 2,509 libraries. One of the key philanthropists of the modern world includes business magnate Bill Gates, who founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fight world poverty and inequality. Below are five big businesses that give to charity and use their profitability to support philanthropic causes.
5 Big Businesses that Give to Charity
- Rolex. This watch company began business in 1905 as a brand that is now a widely recognized symbol of wealth, luxury and sophistication, with watches costing anything within the range of $5,000 to $75,000. While Rolex is, technically speaking, a for-profit company, it is owned by a nonprofit charity organization, the Wilsdorf Foundation. Rolex founder and altruist, Hans Wilsdorf, had hoped that his business would be a “perpetual force for good.” One avenue for the donation of Rolex’s profits is the initiative Perpetual Planet, which supports expeditions and data collection to tackle climate change and protect oceans. Funding from Rolex has supported Felix Brooks-church’s project to tackle malnutrition in Tanzania by fortifying flour with essential nutrients to benefit 2 million people daily. Rolex’s financial contributions have also supported Andrew Bastawrous’ Peek Vision project, which utilizes mobile technology to provide accessible eye care through smartphones in poorer countries such as rural Kenya, where Peek Vision provided more than 250,000 eye tests.
- Disney. Disney is another one of the big businesses that give to charity, with a total of $233 million worth of donations in 2022 through various channels. It invested in the organization Chicas en Tecnologia, which works to provide tech-focused education for girls in Argentina to help reduce the gender gap in technology. Disney partners with UNICEF to support programs such as a two-year initiative to prevent child labor in Vietnam and the P.L.A.Y initiative that provides mobile playgrounds in Haiti and Bangladesh. There is also a Disney Employee Matching Gifts initiative where the company pledges to match the charitable financial donations made by employees.
- BP. Founded by the BP oil company, the BP Foundation received its charitable status in 1953 and has since supported philanthropic efforts around the world. The foundation partakes in employee-led philanthropy through the Employee Matching Fund. The foundation gave more than $2 million in 2021 to match employee donations to nonprofit organizations. This fund encourages BP employees to commit their time and effort to charitable causes with the knowledge that the BP Foundation will make an equal contribution. The foundation also provides humanitarian relief, such as the $2 million it donated to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 response program.
- Goldman Sachs. The global financial services company Goldman Sachs began its journey in 1869 in New York City and made a significant $62.8 billion in revenue in 2022 alone. As part of its commitment to community engagement, the company runs a Goldman Sachs Gives initiative, which partners with nonprofit organizations and contributes financial grants toward philanthropic initiatives. To date, the Goldman Sachs Gives initiative has granted more than $2 billion to 9,000 nonprofit organizations across 140 countries. Recent philanthropic efforts include $8.8 million in 2022 donated to various organizations across the globe providing relief for Ukrainian refugees fleeing war in their home country. Since 2000, Goldman Sachs Gives has supported the South African nonprofit Ubuntu Pathways with grants funding the provision of vaccines for more than 40,000 people in South Africa and a center that helps 2,000 children receive a quality education.
- Microsoft. Bill Gates, one of the wealthiest men today, co-founded a leading, multinational technology company — the Microsoft Corporation. In line with Gates’ personal commitment to philanthropy, Microsoft as a company recognizes a corporate social responsibility that involves supporting fundamental human rights and protecting the planet. Microsoft also operates an employee donation matching program. In 2022, Microsoft and its employees donated a total of $255 million to nonprofits through this initiative. Through the Microsoft Tech for Social Impact scheme, in 2021, Microsoft allocated $2.5 billion in technology grants to nonprofits, and in 2022, Microsoft expanded this scheme to include access to cloud technology. By equipping nonprofits with technical equipment and knowledge of how to use it, Microsoft is helping to diversify and modernize the help given to the world’s poor.
Although some view big businesses as pioneers of capitalism acting only in the interest of individual shareholders, there are in fact many big businesses that give to charity. Rolex, Disney, BP, Goldman Sachs and Microsoft are key examples of large corporations contributing to philanthropic causes to aid communities that require support.
– Sophie Sadera