For-profit companies aren’t usually known for being generous – after all, as their name suggests, their aim is to make a profit, and they’re only really concerned with their own interests. In other words, they couldn’t care less about the world.
However, that’s not entirely true.
They do care. In fact, US companies donated an estimated $17.77 billion to charity in 2014 – a 13.7% increase from the previous year. And while $17.77 billion might seem little compared to individuals’ charitable giving (which totaled at $258.51 billion), these companies still deserve a pat on the back as they help nonprofit organizations make the world a better place through a variety of corporate giving programs.
Whether it’s through cash donations, matching gifts, free products, or pro bono services, these five companies are the most generous in the world when it comes to charitable work.
The battle between Pepsi and Coca-Cola has raged for years, and while a Debate.org poll found that 62% of respondents preferred Coke, Pepsi seems to be doing a better job when it comes to their charity work.
In addition to encouraging healthy lifestyles, broadening the availability of clean water, and empowering women and girls around the world, Pepsi also encourages its employees to engage in community service and volunteering opportunities. In fact, in 2012, they estimated that Pepsi employees had volunteered 33,000 hours in service for projects including PepsiCorps, which helps local communities address societal challenges.
Meanwhile, Pepsi matches employee donations up to $10,000 a year to a number of nonprofits including health services, environmental organizations, and educational institutions, and if an employee volunteers over 50 hours with a single organization, Pepsi matches the employee donation at a ratio of 2:1.
As one of the most valuable brands in the world (as of May 2015, it has a market cap of $367.6 billion), Google can certainly afford to be generous. And they take their charitable work very seriously – after all, their unofficial motto, which was introduced by Gmail creator Paul Buchett in 2000, is “Don’t be evil”.
Google formed its charitable arm, Google.org, in 2005 which donates $100 million in grants and $1 billion in products while its 6,400-strong workforce volunteers 80,000 hours of service every year. The Internet giant also matches employee donations up to $12,000 every year and has, so far, matched over $21 million in donations to over 9,000 organizations around the world.
In 2010, Google was named the Bay Area’s top philanthropist by the San Francisco Business Times for giving some $27.6 million to Bay Area causes, which was only a fraction of the $145 million it had donated to nonprofit organizations and academic institutions that year. Meanwhile, their many projects and initiatives include donating $10 million to a variety of nonprofits in the fight against Ebola, supporting the current refugee and migrant crisis by raising some $12 million for relief efforts, and donating over $9 million to relief and recovery efforts around the world including Hurricane Katrina and the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami.
Apple’s late founder and CEO, Steve Jobs, wasn’t known to be much of a giver. In fact, he made about $8.3 billion in his lifetime, but there’s no public record of any of that money going to charity. Stacy Palmer, the editor of The Chronicle of Philanthropy, told the New York Post that while Jobs wasn’t mean-spirited, “he saw the products he was making as a contribution to society.”
When Tim Cook took over in 2011, though, six weeks before Jobs died due to complications from cancer, a new era began, and he quickly managed to drive Apple away from its penny-pinching reputation.
In September that same year, Apple introduced a matching gift program as part of their corporate philanthropy where they would match employees’ donations to nonprofit organizations dollar-for-dollar up to $10,000 per year. By October, it was announced that they had matched $1.3 million of its employees’ donations and had been donated to a wide range of organizations like museums, schools, and zoos. To date, they have matched over $25 million worth of employee charitable gifts, resulting in more than $50 million for charities around the world.
Better known as Shell, Royal Dutch Shell was created as a merger of Royal Dutch Petroleum and UK-based Shell Transport and Trading in 1907. Today, over a century later, it has a market cap of $195.4 billion, and it is considered as one of the six “supermajors” – the world’s largest publicly owned oil and gas companies – along with ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, Total, and Eni.
Envisioned in 1997, the Shell Foundation was formalized three years later and focuses its work in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and South America through a number of projects to improve access to affordable and reliable energy, tackle the pollution and congestion clogging up developing cities, and helping African entrepreneurs grow their businesses.
Through their matching gift program of up to $5,500 per year, they have managed to raise over $5 billion for nonprofit organizations in their areas of interest and have also donated upwards of $20 million to the University of Texas in Austin through their longstanding philanthropic relationship. Moreover, their donations have helped create more than 35,000 jobs.
When Paul Allen and Bill Gates founded their first company, Traf-O-Data, in 1972 which offered a computer that read raw data from roadway traffic counters and created reports for traffic engineers, they probably had no idea just how successful the next company they would found three years later would be.
Over 40 years later, Microsoft is now the world’s largest software maker and the most valuable brand in the world with a market cap of $340.8 billion, second only to Apple with $741.8 billion.
When Microsoft first implemented its employee giving program back in 1983, 200 employees managed to raise some $17,000 for nonprofit organizations. Today, employees alone have raised over $1 billion and have volunteered over 2.5 million hours in service. Meanwhile, the company itself is regarded as one of the most generous organizations in the world, and rightfully so. It has donated over $8.5 billion in cash, services and software – and that’s excluding the estimated $28 billion Bill Gates and his wife Melinda have donated to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation since its launch in 2000.
Does your company donate to charity? Perhaps you can proudly say that you work for one of the generous companies we’ve listed here? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!