Corporate Charities The Right and Wrong Ways for Big Business to Give Back to the Community
Why do people who have money feel inclined to give it away? Throughout history, reasons for philanthropy have ranged from guilt to concern for personal image, from religious principles to simple generosity. America is awash with corporate CEO’s who have so much money that they could never spend it in a lifetime. What is pocket change to them could save thousands of lives in a third-world country. And yet only some of them choose to give their money away. Even then some of the ones who do are not charitable out of the goodness of their heart but do it purely to make themselves look better in the eyes of the public. In this paper I seek to demonstrate a spectrum of corporate charities. Through four case studies – namely, Wal-Mart, Cisco Systems, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Ted Turner – I show what four companies/company founders have done in the realm on philanthropy and attempt to distinguish between those that do what they do only to hike up their public image between those whose intentions are wholeheartedly altruistic.
The low end of the spectrum – Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart is the largest employer in the United States, as well as the largest importer and purchaser of manufactured goods, and largest groceries outlet. The discount store was founded in 1962 by Sam Walton in a small town in Arkansas. Walton hoped that he could construct a chain of his stores in small communities throughout Arkansas and the surrounding states and by the 80’s this is just what he did. By 1990, Wal-Mart had become one of the largest competitors with Kmart and Target and had opened over 1400 stores in 28 different states. Today the corporation employs approximately 1.2 million Americans and has over 3400 stores nation-wide, in addition to 4500 retails units located in 10 different countries.
Wal-Mart makes claims of giving to the community through its employment of workers and supposed charitable foundations. At the homepage of Wal-Mart’s Good Works Foundation one will notice a quotation claiming that Wal-Mart is the largest employer of Hispanic Americans in the United States. This may very well be true, but is not indicative of anything good or noteworthy as will be come apparent in my discussion to follow.
…But are these employees treated well?
Some notable contributions Wal-Mart has made to local communities include giving over $85 million in community grants to date, $206 million to local United Way chapters since 1983, more than $293 million in 16 years for Children’s Miracle Network (CMN), $80 million in scholarships since 1979 and $1.8 million in environmental grants in the year of 2003. The scope of these charities, however, has been limited to only those communities that have a Wal-Mart store. The foundations website even has a small disclaimer at the bottom saying that eligibility for funding from the...