During the holiday season it’s natural to think about helping the less fortunate, but it’s also a good time to point out that Nevada businesses donate all year long to make our communities better. Despite what the progressives and the liberal media would have you believe, business owners and corporations are not the Ebenezer Scrooges of today. Businesses both large and small have stepped up to help non-profit groups at a time when they need it the most. According to the Giving USA Foundation, corporate giving in the U.S. totaled $15.29 billion in 2010, a 10.6 percent increase from 2009. And corporate executives form the backbone of most boards of directors for non-profit groups, helping with strategic planning, management advice and fundraising.
Large gaming companies like Caesars Entertainment, MGM Resorts, and Station Casinos have robust community giving programs that donate millions of dollars to local charities. In addition to corporate donations, they encourage their employees to raise funds for organizations like March of Dimes, Opportunity Village, and Salvation Army, and many of them allow employees to take paid leave when volunteering at their favorite charity. The MGM Resorts Foundation, funded by employee donations, recently made the largest-ever single company food donation to Three Square Food Bank, a total of 98 tons of food. MGM Resorts also contributed more than $225,000 to Three Square through its corporate giving program.
Non-gaming companies are also vital community partners. Charitable giving and community donations by NV Energy in 2010 totaled $5.4 million. Kinross Gold, like most mining companies in Nevada, continues to support a number of non-profits. The Dermody Properties Foundation, winner of a 2011 Cornerstone Award from the Reno chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, donates more than $100,000 a year to non-profits in the communities in which it does business. Cox Communications participates in Cable in the Classroom, which provides complimentary cable connections to schools, enabling them to offer quality educational programming.
Do you have to be a large corporation to contribute to your community? Of course not. Mount Wheeler Power, a small electrical co-op serving four rural Nevada counties, sponsors a program called CARE (Cooperative Assistance for Residential Energy) that helps low-income people pay their electric bills during the cold winter months. Funded partly by donations from co-op members and partly by the company itself, it provides between $10,000 and $15,000 worth of aid each winter. Healthcare providers, attorneys and CPA firms regularly perform pro bono work for low-income individuals in need of their professional services.
Even mom-and-pop businesses make a difference by adopting a family during the holidays, placing a food bank collection barrel at their office or shop, or sponsoring a Little League or Pop Warner team. As valued members of their communities, business owners help construct homes for Habitat for Humanity, sponsor toy drives, and participate in fundraising events for their local hospital, soup kitchen, or battered women’s shelter.
Of course, community activities offer some benefits for companies. Research has shown that employee loyalty and satisfaction rise when employees participate in charitable giving programs. And donations may get favorable press coverage, which helps with public relations. But most of these charitable efforts go unrecognized, and the only benefit to the company may be the knowledge that together we are making Nevada a better place to live.
So, let me take this occasion to publicly thank all those business owners, corporate executives and rank-and-file employees who have done so much to help their communities over the past year. Thanks, Merry Christmas to all, and keep up the good work in 2012.