Corporate-sponsored community involvement is something that is becoming a bigger slice of the business plan for many corporations and businesses. According to Giving USA, corporate giving in 2017 increased to $20.77 billion—an 8.0% increase from 2016.

These programs come in all shapes and sizes but largely focus on workplace giving, volunteering and social impact programs. Not only do such efforts help a cause, institution or charity, they raise a company’s profile with customers and earn admiration and commitment from employees.

Many companies create corporate giving programs as a way to give back to their local communities, increase employee engagement, and foster meaningful partnerships with nonprofits.

Adam Weinger, president of Double the Donation, which helps nonprofits raise more money from corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs.

One of the most active, Texas-based companies in terms of giving-back-to-make-a-difference is Direct Energy. Not only do they get involved with local efforts in the cities they serve, they have taken a big step in supporting the expansion of a Houston institution dedicated to helping children across Texas, the nation, and around the world.

Part of Houston’s expansive Texas Medical Center in Houston, Texas Children’s Hospital – a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital — recently debuted an expansion of its Texas Children’s Heart Center®, which is ranked #1 in the nation in cardiology and heart surgery by U.S. News & World Report. Occupying eight floors of the new Lester and Sue Smith Legacy Tower, the long-awaited and much-needed new facilities continue the hospital’s mission to diagnosis and treat children with the most complex congenital heart conditions.

Direct Energy’s support of the Heart Center began back in 2015, when the company announced a commitment of $5 million– the largest corporate gift the hospital has received — toward the planned expansion. The opening of the new facilities was celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on October 10, 2018.


“Direct Energy was a huge part of transforming our vision for the Heart Center into reality,” says Mark A. Wallace, president and CEO of Texas Children’s Hospital. “This expansion would not have been possible without the support of Direct Energy.”

Capitalism, if applied creatively, holds the potential to transform the complex social-economic and environmental challenges facing the world today,

Ryan Scott, founder and chairman of Causecast, a firm that offers giving and volunteering technology solutions that help companies achieve both employee engagement and social impact.

The hospital recognized Direct Energy’s support with the naming of the Direct Energy Patient Floor and Cardiac Patient Care Unit..

“This all goes back to why we do what we do,” says Manu Asthana, president of North America Home for Direct Energy. “Things like this are the payoff for our hard work. We get to be successful at work and then translate that success into a way to help people who really need the help.” Asthana adds that the money raised helps support research and training, the purchase of equipment, and paying for uncompensated care.

Just as electricity is the ‘spark’ that brings energy to homes, a healthy heart is the spark that brings a child’s full potential to life. In support of that, Direct Energy has given financial support – more than $4 million — and approximately 1,500 employee volunteer hours — to help Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals nationwide.

“Our volunteering began in 2014 with a group of employees in Florida, and the idea sort of caught fire and spread to other cities,” says  Asthana. “Now, twice a month, employees drop by patient rooms with this big, bright orange Direct Energy Fun Cart. It’s filled with toys, games and art projects for patients and their families to help improve their experience while at the hospital. Our employees also volunteer in Texas Children’s Child Life Zone and host a seasonal craft or activity for patients, children and their families.”

Just as in the case of Direct Energy, the numbers of employees volunteering during business hours is growing, and the phenomenon will likely continue with the rise of the Millennial generation. A recent survey by Deloitte revealed that Millennials are twice as likely to be very satisfied with their career progression when they have the opportunity to volunteer through their employer.

On average, every employee who participates in corporate community engagement activities adds $2,400 of value to the company as a result of decreased turnover and increased employee engagement. According to a study by The Corporate Executive Board Company (CEB Inc.)

Direct Energy employees have plenty of other opportunities to give back and volunteer through the company’s many programs aimed at helping their communities and their customers. A few of those include:

Neighbor to Neighbor – Since one in six Texans are affected by energy poverty, Direct Energy annually donates more than $500,000 to this energy bill payment assistance program.

Houston Food Bank – This award-winning facility distributes 122 million nutritious meals to approximately 800,000 individuals every year. More than 160  Direct Energy employees volunteered a total of 588 volunteer hours in 2017, and recently added another 100 hours in 2018.

Direct Energy’s MS 150 Team – The MS 150 is a two-day fundraising cycling event organized by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. A supporter since 2004, Direct Energy has earned the Circle of Distinction award for raising one million dollars for the cause through its MS 150 team. Direct Energy also supported the Texas Children’s Hospital MS 150 Team by sponsoring and wearing the hospital’s logo on their jersey.

Also, after Hurricane Harvey, 618 Houston Direct Energy employees volunteered 2,330 hours to support the relief efforts in their local communities. 

Whether it’s sponsoring an event that supports a non-profit, making generous donations to deserving causes, or giving employees paid time-off to work with charities of their choosing, corporations are carving out more time, cash and effort for programs that allow them to make a positive impact on the communities they serve.

It’s a business trend that is decidedly on the rise, and CEOs are taking a serious look at what they can do to join in the mission. Choose a charity that aligns with your industry, poll your employees for causes close to their hearts, or consult one of the firms that make it their business to help businesses get involved. This is one corporate giveaway that makes everyone a winner.

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