With the many needs and worthy organizations competing for corporate and individual support, how do GovCon leaders choose? Here’s a look at what motivates giving back.
What makes you want to give? We looked at the corporate responsibility and philanthropy activities at several GovCon companies and among individual leaders and found some interesting stories behind the action.
While serving the community is an imperative for nearly all companies, how they choose to do so involves some tough decisions with the multitude of needs out there. Many support more than one charity or activity. Aligning with company mission, engaging employee commitment, and responding to a personal belief and passion all factor into making these decisions. Here’s a look at how a few GovCon companies make the choice.
In the Family
General Dynamics Information Technology
Dan Johnson, president
A powerful motivation: When Dan Johnson’s granddaughter was 2 years old, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. He wanted to find a way to help not only his own family, but also others who were struggling against the disease. He began serving on the board of the American Diabetes Association Research Foundation, raising funds for grant awards to researchers looking for a cure. The ADA is the nation’s largest voluntary health organization in the fight against diabetes.
An unexpected honor: Last year, GDIT helped support the ADA’s local Father of the Year awards event—where Johnson was named Father of the Year.
But even better: His granddaughter is now 8 years old and still doing well—and still inspiring the members of the Research Foundation board.
The Shirt on Their Backs
Steve Gaffney, chairman
Seeing red: DynCorp supports numerous organizations, but one particular effort really caught on. Many employees had been wearing red shirts on Fridays to show support for those serving in the U.S. military. So DynCorp decided to make its own red shirts and sell them to raise money for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.
Spreading worldwide: The effort gained support among DynCorp teams around the world and raised thousands of dollars for TAPS.
A choice all could work with: “TAPS is a remarkable program,” Gaffney says. “While some organizations limit assistance to military families, TAPS provides assistance to both military and contractor families who have lost a loved one. TAPS helped the families of our own heroes who lost their lives while on mission. It’s simple: When your people are so passionate about the mission that they knowingly put themselves in harm’s way, you want to do everything you can to support them and their families. Our relationship with TAPS helps us to do just that.”
George D. Schindler, president, CGI U.S.
Doing what it does best: CGI has found using its members’ skills in service has been a winning formula in its community support activities. “We promote a ‘bottom up’ approach, encouraging our members to bring us innovative ideas where we can contribute using our core business expertise in technology,” Schindler says. “While our work with not-for-profits often includes board service, we focus on identifying pro bono projects using technology that can have a ‘multiplier’ effect on the organizations we work with.”
Nonprofit with a data challenge: Share Our Strength has a vision to end child hunger by 2015—and Maryland was a focus area. But to get to that goal, it needed help to pinpoint the problems. What nutrition programs were available, and which ones were working? How could the nonprofit target its tight resources to truly make a difference?
Crunching numbers against hunger: The CGI project team developed a data management and reporting tool to aggregate and analyze monthly reports received from partner agencies. The tracking tool generates easy-to-read charts and graphs that let those in the field know what’s improving and where help is most needed.
Choices Close to Home
Ted Davies, president, Federal Systems
Getting to grassroots: While Unisys supports several charitable organizations, it has found that United Way empowers its employees to connect and collaborate with local charities that matter to them. Through its internal, grassroots UGive program, Unisys employees have had an impact on dozens of local nonprofit organizations.
Top-down: United Way has the additional advantage of being a program Unisys’ entire North American business can support. One campaign is run out of corporate headquarters in Pennsylvania; another active campaign is focused on the National Capital Area from Federal Systems headquarters in Reston.
Strategic skills: Davies is on the United Way National Capital Area board and serves as co-chair of a group developing a strategic plan for the organization, which has the tall order of supporting more than 950 local charities.
The personal element: “Over the past five years, United Way NCA has directed more than $150 million dollars to our nonprofit charity partners to help solve entrenched and complex community problems—one person at a time,” Davies said. “The impact that United Way NCA has on our local community excites and motivates me—that’s why I got involved.”
IBM Global Services
Chuck Prow, general manager, public sector
Taking its cue from community: IBM looks at what’s needed in local communities in choosing support efforts through more than 17 program areas in its locations around the world. One such program in the metropolitan Washington area aligns seamlessly with IBM’s capabilities: “the development and use of technologies that improve the way that people and organizations get work done.” Unexpectedly perhaps, it’s at Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, where Prow serves on the board, along with leaders from several other area technology companies.
The science of art: “As readers in the Washington area will know, Wolf Trap provides an amazing array of music, theater, and performance art,” Prow said. “What readers may not know is that Wolf Trap launched one of the first national Science, Technology, Education, and Math (STEM) programs that connects artists with teachers and focuses on elementary school children.”
Getting them interested early: Interactive and engaging, instruction through the arts can bring science and math concepts to children at an early age, setting a lifelong pattern of curiosity and exploration. The United States lags behind in STEM areas, and early learning has proven to be one of the best ways to get ahead.
STEM makes sense: “When I’m involved in community programs, I like to focus on supporting the education system as it prepares students for the next generation of technology jobs,” Prow said. “IBM competes with other employers for the best talent, and we believe that current and future IBMers need STEM skills to ‘Build a Smarter Planet.’ STEM skills improve our ability to compete globally.”
The Foundation Solution
Richard Montoni, CEO, president, and director
Do it yourself: One way to take the charitable effort to multiple causes that align with what employees seek is to create a foundation to do the job. The MAXIMUS Foundation is a nonprofit organization funded by charitable contributions from the company and employees. “In keeping with our mission of ‘Helping Government Serve the People,’ the foundation awards cash grants to organizations that help disadvantaged populations, particularly children and young adults, achieve personal growth and self-sufficiency,” Montoni says.
Far-reaching impact: The foundation supports groups and programs nationwide. A few in the metropolitan Washington area include Jobs for America’s Graduates, which help potential dropouts complete high school and transition into employment, and KEEN Greater D.C., which pairs volunteers with children with physical disabilities to allow both to have fun and exercise.
Consistent and sustained growth: Since it was formed in 2000, the foundation has been able to give support in a way programs can grow with. For instance, its support of Mary’s Center, which provides culturally and linguistically appropriate services to more than 24,000 medically underserved people in the metro area, is a model for delivery of healthcare, education, and social services that can stabilize families and strengthen communities.
Supporting Those Who Support Us
John Hillen, president and CEO
An easy choice: Like many GovCon companies, Sotera counts several organizations supporting veterans and military families among its corporate responsibility work. “The U.S. military is the ultimate end-user of many of our services and solutions,” Hillen said. “Therefore supporting organizations that aid this community—active-duty military, retired members, veterans, and their families—is a key component of our corporate responsibility philosophy.”
A favorite program: The Wounded Warrior Project is one of these organizations. An unprecedented percentage of service members survive severe wounds or injuries—nearly 42,000 in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom combined, according to WWP. The organization helps them adjust to their “new normal,” providing physical and mental health support, as well as helping with economic well-being and community connections.
A solid connection: “The Wounded Warrior Project provides valuable support to members of the U.S. armed forces as they transition back from deployment into civilian life, and some of our best employees have come from WWP recommendations,” Hillen said.
A winning event: Sotera launched its golf tournament to benefit WWP in June 2011, and it was a hit—the company is planning another this June. GCE