At the Height of a Pandemic, These Corporations Are Giving Back
The economic storm brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has already impacted workers and businesses of all stripes. Amidst the uncertainty, a number of corporations around the United States have taken time out from their own emergency planning to think about how children, healthcare workers and vulnerable communities are faring under the most trying economic conditions in living memory.
While nobody knows when a return to normalcy will occur, humanity has largely taken this opportunity to show its inner reserves of compassion, patience and resilience. Corporate executives, managers and workers are adding their support where they can, with many large companies stepping up to help protect the communities who are most vulnerable to the novel coronavirus — and the healthcare workers on a mission to eradicate it. Here, we’ve collected a comprehensive, but by no means complete, list of enterprise companies who are pitching in right now.
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Bank of America
Bank of America has contributed a whopping $360 million to support communities impacted by the coronavirus. On March 17, the bank pledged $100 million to support organizations around the world that are working to “increase medical response capacity, address food insecurity, increase access to learning as a result of school closures and provide support to the world’s most vulnerable populations.”
Two weeks later, Bank of America announced it would give $250 million to community development financial institutions, or CDFIs, to fund loans for the Paycheck Protection Program, a new initiative that helps small businesses keep their workers on payroll. The company also announced $10 million in grants to help fund the operations of CDFIs.
“CDFIs are integral to the development and sustainment of small businesses, health care centers, schools and other community facilities, as well as the financing of affordable housing and economic development projects,” said Anne Finucane, vice chairman of Bank of America, in a statement. “CDFIs will be critical in the response to the unprecedented challenges our communities are facing as a result of the coronavirus.”
COVID-19 has caused film and television studios across the world to pause filming, displacing tens of thousands of workers in the process. WarnerMedia, the parent company of Warner Bros. Television, Warner Bros. Pictures and HBO, has established a $100 million relief fund for workers on its suspended productions. CEO John Stankey announced the fund in an internal staff memo, which was shared with Variety.
“We have paused many productions for the health and safety of employees, cast, crew and community,” Stankey wrote in the memo. “We are stepping up with a commitment of more than $100 million to assist team members of those productions during this time. And as things evolve, we’ll continue to evaluate how we can best respond to the challenges we face as an industry as a result of this pandemic.”
E-commerce giant eBay has put $100 million into its “Up & Running” program, which is designed to help small businesses without an e-commerce presence make the transition from brick and mortar to click and mortar. The program, which applies to businesses based in North America, consists of three months of free basic membership and fee-free sales for up to 500 items. In addition, eBay is also providing free marketing and merchandising tools, discounted shipping supplies and access to coaching from experienced sellers and educational webinars.
“For the last 25 years, eBay has helped launch and grow hundreds of thousands of small businesses, and now we’ve created Up & Running to accelerate the start-up time frame for retailers opening online stores during these unprecedented times,” said Jordan Sweetnam, SVP eBay North America, in a statement.
Twitter is an invaluable platform for journalists around the world, many of which have recently turned their focus toward reporting on the coronavirus. To ensure these journalists have the support they need during these unprecendented times, Twitter is is donating $1 million to the Committee to Protect Journalists and the International Women’s Media Foundation. The donation, which is split evenly between the two organizations, will be used to help protect the rights of journalists around the world and to ensure women in journalism have an equal voice within the industry.
“Thanks to the incredible support of Twitter, the IWMF will be able to address the needs of our community of journalists more deeply and robustly,” said Elisa Lees Muñoz, executive director of the International Women’s Media Foundation, in a statement. “By supporting journalists from diverse communities, together we can support the most representative news possible in this evolving time.”
Google said it has clamped down on misinformation and partnered with the U.S. government to develop a COVID-19 educational website. In addition, the search and cloud giant has also pledged $50 million to help the global response. The money will support organizations working on COVID-19 relief from multiple angles, including health and science, educational resources and small businesses. The company will also match up to $5 million in donations to the United Nations Foundation’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, which will help the World Health Organization track the virus’ spread and provide information and supplies to workers on the frontlines. The company also sent $500,000 to researchers, epidemiologists and software engineers working on HealthMap, a public health website run out of Boston Children’s Hospital.
In times like these, no decisions are made without first consulting the data. To help expedite that process, data warehousing company Snowflake has partnered with data and software engineering consultancy Starschema to make the latter’s COVID-19 incidence and mortality data set publicly available on the Snowflake Data Exchange.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, we can expect data to play an increasingly important role in both public and private operations,” said Matt Glickman, Snowflake’s head of data exchange, in a statement. “It’s essential organizations have access to accurate, near real-time data in this rapidly evolving environment and we’re humbled that the platform architecture is uniquely positioned to help democratize access to Starschema’s data in this time of need.”
Capital One committed $50 million to help its nonprofit partners respond to changing needs within the communities they serve. Those partners provide services like food for the hungry, shelter for the homeless, support for small businesses, and assistance for low-income families and financial stability programs. The company is also matching donations from employees who donate to selected nonprofits focused on alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and accelerating a pilot program designed to bring free internet access in less wealthy neighborhoods, among others.
In March, salad chain Sweetgreen said it was pivoting its Outpost platform — centrally located pickup points for online orders — to deliver free salads and bowls to hospitals in the cities it serves. Earlier this month, the company launched an “Impact Outpost Fund” in partnership with World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit that provides food after natural disasters. The fund will help Sweetgreen expand its free meal program for healthcare professionals.
To date, the company said it has already delivered more than 10,000 meals to hospitals around the country and is expanding into schools and senior centers.
Goldman Sachs has provided much-needed support to hospitals across the United States and the United Kingdom. In addition to donating 600,000 masks, the company has launched a global, $25 million fund through its charity arm, Goldman Sachs Gives, to support healthcare organizations, those on the frontlines and communities that have been hit hard by the coronavirus. Goldman Sachs has also launched a new charitable matching program that will donate up to $5 million, with employee contributions of up to $25 matched three-to-one and larger contributions matched equally.
“This is in many ways an unprecedented moment,” said David Solomon, chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, in a statement. “We are being asked as individuals, as family members, as employees and as citizens to stand up for each other, and to find ways through each of these roles to support others. We have to focus on making progress each day, recognizing this is uncharted territory and success will not be quick in coming.”
McDonald’s moved quickly to find and donate one million N95 masks — critical to protect healthcare workers from catching and spreading the new coronavirus — to its home city and state. The fast food chain sent 750,000 masks to healthcare workers in Chicago, and a further 250,000 to other hospitals and medical centers throughout Illinois. McDonald’s has also donated meals and financial aid to hard-hit communities both in the United States and around the world.
In a press release, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot called out the company for its donation. “We are thankful and proud to have a hometown hero like McDonald’s as our partner during this time,” she said.
Food giant Kraft Heinz has set aside $12 million to help feed vulnerable communities in a time of unprecedented economic upheaval. That includes a $1.9 million cash donation to food bank organization Feeding America and a further $4.7 million in products — think mac and cheese, gravy, nut mixes, frozen meals and the like — which will go directly to Feeding America member food banks. The remaining money will go to similar initiatives in other countries where the global company operates, including hard-hit Italy and Spain, supplementing an earlier food donation to families in China.
“This donation is an immediate and impactful way we can help our neighbors in need around the world and help fill this critical gap,” CEO Miguel Patricio said in a press release. “We are all in this together and are reminded that we’re only as strong as our most vulnerable.”
Mattel, the company behind Barbie, Hot Wheels, Fisher-Price and many other iconic toy brands, has switched its manufacturing facilities in El Segundo, California and East Aurora, New York to produce face masks. In a LinkedIn post last week, COO Richard Dickson explained how the company will use fabric originally earmarked for Barbie and Fisher-Price products to produce the masks, as well as plans to prototype protective equipment like face shields.
Earlier this week, Dickson reported that the company had made its first delivery to Los Angeles’ Kaiser Permanente South Bay Medical Center. “This is our first delivery of many,” Dickson wrote. “We are also working with several other healthcare institutions across the U.S. to provide additional masks to healthcare workers and first responders.”
In late March, fast-growing social media giant TikTok announced it would donate $10 million to the World Health Organization’s Solidarity Response Fund. “This fund helps the WHO carry out vitally important work, including sending essential supplies to frontline healthcare workers, ensuring communities have access to the latest science-based information, and accelerating efforts to discover life-saving treatments or vaccines,” TikTok President Alex Zhu wrote in a press release. The company has also used its platform to stream briefings and Q&A sessions with WHO experts.
The partners of alternative asset management firm Citadel and the global market maker Citadel Securities have donated $5 million to four New York-based medical institutions currently researching COVID-19. The funds will be distributed to Mount Sinai Health System, NYU Langone Health, The Rockefeller University and Weill Cornell Medicine. Scientists at these institutions are working on a variety of projects, including rapid-response testing programs, immune-based therapies that keep frontline healthcare workers from contracting COVID-19, and the viability of prophylactic drugs on preventing infections in frontline workers.
“Doctors, nurses and countless others continue to relentlessly battle the virus and selflessly care for the sick, while our nation's researchers pursue the science needed to ultimately lead us out of this pandemic,” said Ken Griffin, founder and CEO of Citadel, in a statement. “Collaboration and philanthropic support are essential to accelerate medical solutions and will be the difference in protecting as many lives as possible.”
With up to 10 percent of Americans filing for unemployment in the last few weeks, many are struggling to repay mortgages and other loans. In response, loan service company PennyMac is providing temporary relief by allowing customers to reduce or even eliminate their payments through the peak of the economic freeze. Customers won’t pay additional interest beyond their regular payments, nor will PennyMac charge additional fees for the service. The company says that while many banks are not deferring payments to the end of the loan, they’re committed to helping customers get through any financial struggles that accompany the pandemic.
Disney helped stock food banks in Orlando, Florida, and Orange County, California, with food from its shuttered theme parks, which closed to the public on March 16. The company sent dairy, fruit, vegetables, packaged meals and banquet food from its parks to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida and the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County. According to Disney, the company donates over 1.2 million meals annually to Second Harvest.
“We are deeply grateful to Disneyland Resort for their generous donation of food,” said Harald Herrmann, CEO of Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, in a statement. “Donations of food, especially shelf-stable food, will be critical in the days and weeks ahead to serve those in our community impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.”
Adobe has committed $3 million to organizations helping communities in its own backyard — the Bay Area — and around the world. The company has given $1 million to The Santa Clara County Homelessness Prevention System Financial Assistance Program, which will be used to help low-income individuals pay rent and acquire other basic necessities. The company has also donated $1 million to the COVID-19 Fund of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which is helping vulnerable communities around the world impacted by the coronavirus. Finally, from March 23 until April 30, Adobe will match up to $1 million in employee donations to organizations providing assistance to communities where the company operates.
Online bank Synchrony has opened its wallet and rallied its members to help fight hunger and provide much-needed protective equipment to those on the frontlines. The company has donated $1.5 million to national nonprofits dedicated to fighting hunger, including Feeding America and Meals on Wheels. An additional $3.5 million has been earmarked to provide grant support to local organizations tackling issues like family homelessness, economic insecurity and childcare in neighborhoods that have been hit hardest by the coronavirus.
Synchrony is also making it easier for card holders — the company issues credit cards for retailers and online stores — lend a hand during the pandemic. The company has provided a credit to those with its “Sewing & More” credit card to facilitate the purchase of materials used to make masks.
“Synchrony is committed to serving our employees, partners, and customers and to supporting communities in their greatest hour of need,” said Margaret Keane, CEO of Synchrony and president of the Synchrony Foundation, in a statement. “We’re all in this together, and by uniting to help protect the nation’s most vulnerable and bring empathy into our actions, we will get to a better day and a stronger future.”
Workflow software company ServiceNow rapidly rolled out four emergency response apps on its platform, designed to help its customers — including enterprises and government agencies — manage the COVID-19 fallout. Governments in Washington State and San Francisco were early adopters of ServiceNow’s platform, which is now in use by almost 1,000 organizations worldwide.
“We are humbled by the extraordinary and rapid response to these apps in an effort to help the world flatten the curve on COVID-19 as fast as possible,” CEO Bill McDermott said in a statement. “These ServiceNow applications enable emergency outreach, self-reporting and exposure management, which are precisely actions that organizations can take right now to help people get through this crisis.”
Cincinnati-based supermarket chain Kroger has donated $1.5 million to each Feeding America and No Kid Hungry and is also providing support for its own employees who work on the frontlines. The company has also launched a “hero bonus,” which grants hourly, frontline workers an extra $2 per hour from March 29 to April 18. Additionally, Kroger has also partnered with the commonwealth of Kentucky to provide drive-thru coronavirus testing.
“Our most urgent mission is to be here for our customers when they need us most, and our store, warehouse, distribution, food production and office associates are working around the clock to keep our stores open for our customers,” said Keith Dailey, Kroger's group vice president of corporate affairs, in a statement.
In March, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff pledged $1.5 million to help COVID-19 relief efforts, split between the University of California, San Francisco’s COVID-19 Response Fund and the CDC Foundation’s Emergency Response Fund. The company also emphasized its usual policy of matching employee donations to eligible organizations, recommending support to UNICEF, Direct Relief, Save the Children and Give2Asia.
“This moment reminds us that we’re all connected like never before,” Benioff wrote in a blog post, “and to get through these times we need patience, understanding, compassion and to take care of each other.”
Vacuum and hand dryer company Dyson has stepped up to design and deliver ventilators to cover a shortage in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. CNN broke the story in late March, reporting that Dyson was working to fill an order for 10,000 ventilators for the country’s National Health Service. Founder James Dyson said he had designed and built the new ventilator, a battery-powered machine dubbed “CoVent,” within ten days of the order coming in, although they have yet to secure regulatory approval. In addition to the 10,000 units headed for the NHS, Dyson also said the company would donate 5,000 ventilators to international efforts against the pandemic.
San Francisco-based cloud communications company Twilio is forking out $1.5 million for COVID-19 response efforts. That includes $500,000 for the UN Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund, $250,000 to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s regional response fund, $250,000 to a Colorado relief fund and a $500,000 donation from CEO Jeff Lawson’s own checkbook to the Give2SF fund, which supports city and county governments in Twilio’s hometown. In a blog post, Chief Social Impact Officer Erin Reilly also said Twilio had pledged to triple any employee donation to organizations like the CDC Foundation, Global Relief International, Give2Asia and International Medical Corps.
Slack, like many companies, shared its admiration for those on the frontlines fighting the coronavirus on Twitter. However, the company took things one step further, responding to its own tweet with an announcement of a $1 million donation to the #Covid19TechCollaborative. At the time of the announcement on March 23, a total of 25 Bay Area tech companies had collectively pledged $22 million, with the funds earmarked for the CDC Foundation, UN Foundation and Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
Global money wiring service Western Union stepped up early to help COVID-19 public health campaigns, pledging to match up to $500,000 in donations back in February. The funds would go to nonprofits working in China — where the virus was doing its worst at the time — and elsewhere around the world. “The time is now for the global community to come together in support of communities affected by COVID-19,” CEO Hikmet Ersek said in a press release. “Being a responsible global company means not just serving and benefiting from an interconnected world but taking steps to care for vulnerable communities in dire times.”
Xandr, AT&T’s digital advertising platform and analytics platform, has donated $200,000 to Save the Children, Feeding America, the World Health Organization and the International Rescue Committee. In addition, the company has also reportedly contributed $20,000 to its internal employee resource groups “to support marginalized and otherwise-vulnerable communities who are now at greater risk.” Along with the financial contributions, Xandr has also donated ad space to the CDC, the Clean the World Foundation and the Ad Council to help spread messages about how to combat the coronavirus.
Meal kit company Home Chef is working to make sure food is the last thing people have to worry about during a pandemic. The company has launched “Home Chef Helps” to support communities impacted by COVID-19. The initiative is made up of three parts: first, a $100,000 donation to Feeding America. The second element is a donation drive among the company’s customers, who have the option to forgo a week’s worth of deliveries and instead donate to Feeding America. Finally, Home Chef is offering an exclusive discount for hospital staff, teachers, doctors, nurses, first responders and military members.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Feeding America is committed to serving communities and individuals facing hunger across America and we, at Home Chef, want to do what we can to support their critical work during this unprecedented time,” said Pat Vihtelic, founder and CEO of Home Chef, in a statement.
DocuSign is one of the 25 Bay Area companies that make up the #Covid19TechCollaborative, which has donated a combined $22 million to the CDC Foundation, United Nations Foundation and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The company has donated an undisclosed amount to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Coronavirus Regional Response Fund, which is providing support to low-income families, nonprofits and small businesses in the Bay Area impacted by the coronavirus. Along with the donation, DocuSign is doubling employee charitable donations to regional organizations.
“We are grateful that local companies are committing themselves to helping our communities,” said Nicole Taylor, Silicon Valley Community Foundation President and CEO, in a statement. “In such uncertain times, it is uplifting to witness the philanthropic and business sectors coming together to take powerful action.”
According to Statista, Costco operates 543 stores in the United States and Puerto Rico. At all 543 of those stores, first responders and healthcare workers have front-of-the-line privileges. The company has implemented a new policy that allows those fighting coronavirus on the frontlines to avoid long waits and head straight into its stores. In addition to giving priority access to those battling COVID-19, Costco has also implemented special shopping hours for seniors and those with disabilities.
Investment bank JPMorgan Chase already knows how many Americans struggle with financial instability, and announced on March 18 that they were committing $50 million to philanthropic investments to address the effects of the pandemic. The bank has earmarked $5 million to provide healthcare, food and other humanitarian aid around the world, $2 million to support its existing nonprofit partners who are responding to COVID-19, and $8 million to assist vulnerable small businesses in the United States, China and Europe. The remaining $35 million will be used over time to help vulnerable communities recover from the crisis.
“We are mobilizing the firm’s resources to support customers, employees and communities — especially the most vulnerable — in this time of crisis,” Head of Corporate Responsibility Peter Scher said in a press release. “We are making immediate investments to help those most affected by humanitarian challenges and looking into sustainable and innovative solutions to help small businesses and underserved communities recover when the crisis subsides.”
Walmart got into the fight against coronavirus early, pledging $25 million on March 17 to support organizations on the frontlines fighting the virus. It took only nine days for the company to announce that $15 million had been donated to 10 different organizations, a list that includes Meals on Wheels, Feeding America and the World Health Organization’s Solidarity Response fund.
The World Health Organization has refreshed its COVID-19 dashboard with the help of enterprise software company Sprinklr, which is providing its services pro bono. The updated dashboard is now mobile-friendly and features new data visualization tools that enable users to see the impact of coronavirus on the world via a map view and more traditional graphs.
“I thank the WHO team and the Sprinklr team, our pro-bono technology partner, for the development and launch of this platform in such a short time,” said Bernardo Mariano Junior, director of digital health and Innovation at the WHO, in a statement. “This is a work in progress, and we will continue to update the platform with new data sets from national and sub-national level, as well as showing data of clinical trials, country-specific public health measures, and other important indicators.”
Cybersecurity company Avast has made a major donation to help fight the coronavirus. Actually, make that three major donations. The company has donated $12 million to the Therapeutic & Diagnostic Accelerator program, which is focused on speeding up the development and distribution of COVID-19 diagnostic tests. It also committed $8 million to COVID-Zero Coalition, a group of businesses supporting the research and development of vaccines, treatments and tests. Additionally, Avast has earmarked $5 million for further charitable initiatives.
“We are all really excited to actively join the fight and devote our resources to defeat this nasty virus,” Avast CEO Ondrej Vlcek wrote on the company’s blog. “While the situation is severe, it is wonderful to see people working together so well, and we are hopeful that our steps will also motivate others to support game-changing initiatives such as these. What I can say is that this is just the start of our involvement in managing this crisis and you will hear more from us in this regard soon.”
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