Becca Fracassa, Director of Community Impact, Comcast – Greater Boston
Laura Kurzrok, Executive Director, Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation
April McGonnigal, Sr. Manager, Joy in Childhood Foundation
Brooke Rosenbauer, Community Impact, Reebok
Katie Meyer Soares, Community Relations Programs Manager, TJX
Beverly Tangvik, President, Arbella Insurance Foundation
Arbella Insurance Group and the Arbella Insurance Foundation
Established in 1988, the Arbella Insurance Group is a company with more than $800M in revenue with approximately $1.5B in assets, headquartered in Quincy, Massachusetts. Arbella is a customer-focused regional property and casualty insurance company, providing personal and business insurance in Massachusetts and Connecticut, and business insurance in Rhode Island and New Hampshire. The Arbella Insurance Group founded the Arbella Insurance Foundation in 2004. Recognized as one of the Boston Business Journal’s “Top Charitable Contributors” for eleven consecutive years, the have a significant positive impact on the people and communities served by Arbella.
From their website: “Technology is a powerful driver of innovation and economic growth. That’s why we are investing our resources in ways that help communities realize the transformative potential of media and technology to solve problems, improve lives and to create opportunity. We are committed to increasing access to technology, providing skills that help individuals fully participate in the digital economy, and empowering innovators, entrepreneurs and our own employees to use media and technology for good.”
Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation
The Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation is a leader in corporate philanthropy and serves as the charitable arm of Eastern Bank. Since its establishment, Eastern Bank and the Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation have contributed to the health and vitality of the communities we serve. This is evidenced through our extraordinary commitment to provide financial support to organizations throughout our footprint. We do this by funding over 1,600 local organizations each year that provide services to the communities we serve. We champion organizations providing services to people in historically-marginalized communities. We work to ensure that all of our neighbors have equal access to food, shelter, employment, education, child care and other basic necessities of life. Our goal: is to support impactful organizations across our geographic footprint. Eastern Bank also believes in the power of recognizing and celebrating the outstanding work of community leaders and partner organizations through our Celebrations for Good.
Joy in Childhood Foundation
Founded in 2006, the Joy in Childhood Foundation is an independent 501(c)3 organization powered by Joy in Childhood Foundation’ and Baskin-Robbins as well as the generosity of our franchisees, partners, employees and guests. Our mission is to provide the simple joys of childhood to kids battling hunger or illness.
We believe impact is felt most at the local level. Thanks to franchisees and brand employees who volunteer their time to identify the biggest needs in their communities; organize local fundraising and volunteer events; and conduct local grantmaking, we are able to maximize our impact for kids who need joy the most.
The Reebok Foundation
The Reebok Foundation has supported non-profits in the Boston area for decades. In line with Reebok’s heritage as a fitness brand, the Reebok Foundation has taken on the challenge of closing the fitness gap by increasing access to fitness for disadvantaged populations. Over the past 10 year, Reebok has helped the BOKS physical activity program for kids grow to over 4,000 schools worldwide. Recently, the Foundation has begun working to close the fitness gap for women by supporting a number of local partners in Boston who are using fitness as a tool for social change and empowerment for women.
From the website: Our Global Community Mission is to provide value to our communities by helping vulnerable families and children access the resources and opportunities they need to build a better future.
In addition to our support for current national and local non-profit partners, we are currently accepting letters of inquiry from non-profits seeking grant support in the following areas only:
- Basic needs for those in need (food, clothing, and shelter)
- Access to opportunities outside of school that enable school success for at-risk youth (pre-kindergarten to grade 12)
- Workforce readiness training for at-risk youth (ages 16-24)
- Safety from domestic violence (shelter, prevention, and services)
What does you organization see as the pressing need or needs at this time and how are you responding?
- TJX – Mission statement is really broad and focused around families and children and ensuring that all kids have what they need to be ready to learn. This means ensuring their day starts off with a healthy meal, and they have a safe place to live, access to clean clothes, hygiene items, after school programs, summer learning programs etc.
- Clothing needs – often not looked at as that most pressing need but it impacts the way a child might operate during the school day. They work with nonprofit partners in that space to make sure kids have access to clean clothes
- Joy in Childhood Foundation’s mission is to bring joy to children experiencing hunger and illness. 2 national focuses
- In children’s health space conducted a needs assessment with health professionals and stakeholders and found that one of the gaps was around teens and those transitioning into adulthood and so they are exploring further and developing programs eg the foundation hosted Teen Prom for Boston Children’s Hospital teen patients
- Hunger – also conducting a needs assessment with other stakeholders and then will see where there is an opportunity for funding
- These also influence how regional grants are distributed, one cycle per year with an online application where we fund organizations near and dear to employee and franchisees’ hearts
- Eastern Bank was established 201 years ago to provide financial services to a population not being served which has turned into its philanthropic approach: they support organizations who are providing basic needs in Eastern MA, Southern and Coasting NH
- They focus areas of need in community by taking one special focus area each year and dedicate 20-25% of funding to that topic, in the past have focused on: workforce development, families, community health etc.
- Working on adjusting grantmaking process to maximize impact by potentially funding fewer organizations
- Topic focus and new process will be announced next month
- Business Equity Initiative – work with small black and brown owned businesses to build their capacity and gain bigger wealth and offer more employment in neighborhoods they serve – funded with $10 million grant from Foundation and collaboration with The Boston Chamber and The Boston Foundation.
- Arbella Insurance Group- Give locally in CT, MA, Southern RI with a broad mission statement which comes down to employees and independent agents. Food and housing over the years has become a target for them and they work with agents throughout the region to give out food.
- Safe Driving Program – saw a lot of insurance claims were based on texting and driving and so they provide training for safe undistracted driving to students and have seen a difference in drivers who have taken the program.
- Support Matching Gifts with employees and will also support employees in charitable events
- Suicide awareness and prevention was a cause that employees supported individually and giving more attention to it organizationally now
- Just launched program to support bus grants for school field trips
- Reebok – 10 years ago Reebok supported a program started in Natick called BOKS to get kids active and then brought it in house to scale and fund the program and now they have reached over 4,000 students globally. Their goal is to teach kids to love fitness so they have stronger health outcomes when they get older.
- Used to have a small grants program and various initiatives and have now focused in on the Fitness Gap – huge difference in health outcomes between those who have material wealth and those who don’t and companies like Reebok help to contribute to that illusion, so they are trying to do something about it and contribute foundation resources to this fitness gap
- BOKS program is still a huge portion of what they do and they are doing more with female populations
- Mission just supports organizations focused on fitness
- Currently fund 5 organizations through women’s program and currently developing the programming further
Is event sponsorship a good entry point to a deeper relationship with a corporation and can that lead to foundation funding? And if not what’s the best way to make the approach for a full proposal?
- Reebok- no longer does one-off events so they can put all their resources into their community partners
- To build relationship: organizations should reach out and share their mission
- Arbella – a lot of giving comes from personal contacts, particularly executives. Will do sponsorships but those usually come from personal relationships and stories. There is a better chance of funding if someone personally reaches out to someone in the company.
- TJX – has moved away from doing a lot of sponsorship and any requests for support will often transition over to support in form of a grant for consideration
How do you define long term sustainability for the organizations you support? What’s your opinion on multiyear grants, programmatic vs operating support, overhead costs?
- Joy in Childhood Foundation – Most of the regional grants are one year grants, but would consider a proposal for a 3 year program. National partners are funded with multiyear grants
- Want to see sustainability in organization: won’t grant for more than 3 years in a row but you can take a gap year and reapply – important to still be in communication during gap year
- They fund programs, not organizations but will allow for operational support within program
Are small organizations with deep impact but fewer served good matches for large corporate funders?
- Eastern Bank – funds large and small organizations and the key is that the request is proportional to budget, i.e. don’t want to fund 20-25% of organization for example
- Also rely on colleagues to provide feedback on organization
- TJX – looking at grants on regional basis within 15 miles of TJX store so they do end up funding small nonprofits
- Reebok – small foundation without a ton of resources so tend to support in other ways in addition to funding like media and marketing reach, merchandise, volunteer time etc.
How and when do you like to hear from grantees?
- Joy in Childhood Foundation- likes to hear when bigger moments are taking place, new volunteer role in organization is local engagement officer who takes information from Northeast grantees and will share that information out
- Email and social media is best, no phone calls
- Eastern Bank – likes to hear from people to help understand the work your organization is doing, Laura generally prefers phone calls to in person meetings but do email first to establish a convenient time
- Arbella – sits down annually with partners they routinely fund because they like to build up personal relationship
- Appreciates thank you phone calls and handwritten notes
- Reebok – know your audience and establish that relationship from the beginning
Any tips to engage corporate groups if there are no volunteer opportunities?
- Eastern Bank – will make the financial contribution, if volunteer opportunity exists it’s an added bonus but not required
- Arbella – if you really can’t accommodate volunteers, don’t make something up – is there something that can done in the foundation’s space?
- For example brown bag lunches during lunch hour, collating mailings etc
- Comcast- local volunteering program for staff that they try to send out employees to plan in advance so it’s not an overwhelming number of volunteers. volunteerism is a part of their relationship
How would you describe your ideal partnership?
- Arbella – start small, partnerships are strengthened when employees are involved
- Value continuous communication
- Eastern Bank – easier you can make it for them, the better it is – want to understand what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, for whom, and where as easily as possible
- Do your homework in advance to understand if your organization is aligned with foundation priorities
Are you able to provide feedback on declinations?
- Joy in Childhood Foundation – haven’t in the past because they used to be reviewed by volunteers locally, but they are taking that review process back in house and doing the first review all as a team
- It’s fair to email organization to ask why if you are declined
- Reebok – sometimes organization just doesn’t fit, so be mindful and nice in follow-up emails
- TJX –People apply through the online system with LOI and if you are invited to submit a full application, you will definitely get a response if you are declined, but there is a chance you won’t get response to LOI
- Eastern Bank – tries very hard to be available to answer questions
- Arbella – appreciate gracious nice emails and take those into account for future consideration, hard to respond to every email because there are so many
- Comcast – try to get back to everybody, but so much communication builds up – easier if they are short and sweet
What does your company do around corporate sponsorship and how would we approach your organization?
- Eastern Bank – only reviews application requests submitted through online application site
- Comcast- doesn’t accept unsolicited requests so if you’re not already working on corporate sponsorship or something, would need to be in touch to get that request in, approach via email
- Joy in Childhood Foundation – get foot in door by building relationship with local franchise, don’t go through foundation for marketing sponsorships because they are different entities
What age ranges does “serving children” refer to?
- TJX : Pre-L – 8th grade and 16-24 – informed by what nonprofit is doing and what their goals are
- Joy in Childhood Foundation : birth – 18, including formula for babies
- Eastern Bank: prenatal – 24, depending on programs they’re funding
- Arbella: no specific age restriction
- Reebok: BOKS program is primarily focused on elementary and middle school. Theory of change is based on early active intervention
Is there a potential to receive more operating support and multi-year grants while corporate foundations are narrowing support? If you’re helping fewer, are you giving more deeply?
- Reebok – likes to fund operating costs and they focus more on outcomes. They appreciate going deep into relationship with each partner
- TJX – Primarily one year grants but can reapply
- Eg. Have funded Save the Children for 35 years on one year grants
How are corporate foundation attempting to be transparent in all communications?
- TJX – website outlines guidelines of what they can and can’t fund, take a look at FAQ section first and then they are open to conversation if you still have questions. They are trying to be as transparent as possible because they don’t want to waste anyone’s time