Editorial

Philanthropy is much more than a marketing plan

November 29, 2013
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Bill and Melinda Gates’ Giving Pledge, by which they invited fellow billionaires to agree to give half of their wealth to charity, has garnered more than 92 committed individuals since last reported in September, including Warren Buffett, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Gates was quoted in the national media: “Their thoughtfulness and deep commitment to philanthropy are an inspiration to me, and I’m sure to many others.”

The billionaires in West Michigan have walked that thought for generations, and their example has inspired a community of givers in hundreds of ways and with millions of dollars.

The business community is often pilloried for the very foundation of its existence to make a profit. Business Journal reports often include the headlines of charitable giving throughout the year — not only as the holiday season counts down.

The philanthropy in this region has been genuine and generally not associated with a marketing plan. Most notable is that it has continued despite federal tax law changes reducing deductions for such giving.

In just the past month, Amway put numbers to its legion of volunteers and their efforts. Amway’s 2012 Corporate Social Responsibility Report noted the company has reached 10 million children through its One by One Campaign for Children, which has been building momentum since it launched in 2003.  

Perrigo Co.’s Charitable Foundation announced a donation Nov. 25 of $275,000 to the city of Allegan and five local nonprofit organizations. Chairman and CEO Joe Papa told the Business Journal, “We hope that gifts, given as we wrap up our 125th anniversary celebration, continue to strengthen organizations that make Allegan County such an exceptional place for Perrigo to grow and prosper.”

Meijer Inc.’s beneficence to the community is constant throughout the year. A few weeks ago, Feeding America West Michigan reported it had received three semi-trucks worth $26,000 each for its program to deliver 2 million pounds of food in 40 West Michigan counties. Meijer also has been the major donor of food items for that distribution.

Cooley Law School has enlisted more than 200 attorneys across the state to provide pro bono assistance to military personnel who are deploying or serving, and has become a model for other states.

Baudville employees on Oct. 28 counted 1,400 volunteer hours of planning and building a therapeutic riding trail on more than 34 acres of the Equest Center for Therapeutic Riding.

Kids’ Food Basket has delivered 6,000 sack lunches or sack suppers to children throughout Kent County this year with the help of a legion of volunteers and donations.

These are only the very recent examples, and a full list would likely stretch to the North Pole. The Business Journal finds it appropriate to note the beneficence as charitable giving ends in one tax year and extends to the next.

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