Silicon Valley Community FoundationIn December 2015, Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) awarded $50 million in matching grants to support 24,450 nonprofit organizations in the United States and 45 other countries, according to CSRwire.

This is the largest total to date, beating out last year’s total of $23 million in matching grants. SVCF gives matching grants through its partnership with YourCause, which is the leading Software as a Service provider of employee engagement resolutions.

YourCause provides companies with a variety of employee engagement techniques including volunteering and charitable giving.

Maeve Miccio, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility for SVCF, said, “SVCF is proud to say that we sent more than $50 million in matching grants to nonprofit organizations around the world in 2015. We applaud our corporate clients and their employees who have made philanthropy a priority through employee engagement programs in their workplaces. Their gifts support everything from education to the arts to hunger relief programs, and their generosity is inspiring.”

Matching grants come from corporate funds, matching the amount of money donated to a charity by an employee of that company.

According to CSRwire, nearly one-fifth of the total matching grants SVCF awarded by December 2015 came from PepsiCo employees and matching grants from the PepsiCo Foundation.

“PepsiCo believes in investing in our people and in the communities where we operate,” according to Andrea Seek, Director of Global Citizenship for PepsiCo. “It is gratifying that our partnership with SVCF and YourCause has allowed us to help improve and strengthen our communities around the globe.”

Around 65 percent of Fortune 500 companies have programs to match employees’ donations with corporate donations, according to CSRwire.

Approximately $2.1 billion was donated by the U.S. in 2014 by companies around the world through matching corporate gift programs.

SVCF is the largest community foundation in the world and continues to work toward innovative philanthropic solutions to challenging problems.

Jordan Connell

Sources: CSRwire, Silicon Valley Community Foundation
Photo: Silicon Valley Community Foundation

Sustainable Development

“You cannot have a healthy business in an unhealthy world,” said Pier Luigi Sigismondi, Chief Supply Chain Officer at Unilever, to the Business Fights Poverty organization. As the world’s third-largest consumer goods company, Unilever acknowledges sustainable development helps everyone.

The company acknowledged the failure to address the impact of multinational businesses on human rights has serious consequences not just for people at the bottom of the pyramid but for businesses themselves. That is why the company pursues a program of sustainable development that aligns business interests with human rights and sustainability agendas.

Unilever is just one of many companies that follow the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), which urged companies to increase their efforts to respect universally recognized human rights “throughout their operations, value chains and business relationships.”

There are many reasons why more and more businesses are implementing policies and internal reform mechanisms responsive to the UNGPs.

For one, there is external pressure to do so: the publication of the UNGPs has coincided with a broad trend of investors, business partners and governments more frequently confronting companies about their human rights impacts. Companies whose activities are related to chronic poverty or tragedies such as collapsed factories are at risk of their reputation suffering.

For RWE, a German electric utility company, harm to their reputation as the primary impetus behind a rigorous program of internal assessment and reform, along with EU regulatory threats and public pressure in the form of a media campaign. RWE went on to lead other companies in addressing human rights issues in the global coal supply chain. Michelin underwent a similar transformation when civil society organizations brought the tire manufacturer to court for unfair practices at a facility it was constructing in India.

When it comes to environmental and human rights impacts, more than reputation is at stake for global companies. As Sigismondi said, there are cost benefits to reducing waste and energy use while there are commercial and operational costs for conflict, poverty and other issues that disrupt markets and supply chains. Implementing policies geared toward achieving SDGs not only makes companies look good, but it also ensures they will be able to securely reach customers around the world for many years to come.

Furthermore, sustainable development helps businesses adapt to changing economies and demographics. In many African countries with developing middle classes, rapid urbanization and greater integration with the world economy, there is an increasing need for engagement and collaboration with workers, business people and investors who can integrate production systems and build supply chains locally. Addressing the impact of human rights supports such an expansion.

Unilever’s success stands as proof of the benefits of aligning business interests with human rights and sustainability agendas. Purifying the agricultural value chain in Kenya led to increased yields and incomes for small farmers and increased supply chain security for the company. Working with retailers in many countries to raise incomes and living standards has enabled the company to broaden its consumer base into remote areas.

Sustainable development helps everyone. While it protects the rights of vulnerable people in impoverished areas around the world, it also provides security and opportunity for companies trying to adapt to a globalized economy.

Joe D’Amore

Sources: Business Fights Poverty 1, Business Fights Poverty 2, WBCSD 1, WBCSD 2
Photo: Green Living

Presented for the third year in a row, the Aid Transparency Index (ATI) aims to rate 67 donor organizations based on their overall transparency as perceived by published projects, scored on a large scale of 39 different factors.

This year, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) came in first place–an accomplishment which sets high promise for the near future in eradicating global poverty.

American based, the Millennium Challenge Corporation works to provide growth opportunities and open markets, raise the standard of living, and increase the prosperity in other countries overall. The organization has spent over $8.4 billion in funding of various foreign aid projects, supporting agriculture, improved health and medicine, anti-corruption initiatives, education and more.

On the Board of Directors of MCC are serving, among others, the Secretary of State, the USAID Administrator and the U.S. Trade Representative. The vast authority and power that these leaders bring to the organization allow for several large-scale projects, which have improved the lives of thousands. Their main goal with funding is sustainable economic growth: large efforts are spent on training farmers, agricultural loans and producing fruitful land.

To see this organization on the top of ATI is reassuring, more so, it is an accomplishment to note for other corporations. The ATI is not crystal clear in terms of the mechanics of the grading scale; for example, projects need to be published in the right format and in due time to be accounted for. However, the MCC gaining first place this year shows that large organizations, handling vast amounts of funding and working all over the world, can still remain transparent. The issue of transparency is very widespread in the modern day, where phantom corporations are used to embezzle money and where officials’ true agendas happen to be revealed over resources such as WikiLeaks.

MCC sets an example that instills hope and strengthens the “non-profit” definition. It is transparent as it is prolific; and hopefully for next year, more companies will follow suit and improve their transparency in order to maximize the effect of their global efforts.

– Natalia Isaeva

Sources: ONE, MCC
Photo: Flickr