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Companies Find a Cause to Rally Around

Benefits company Unum matches employee donations to educational programs on a 2-to-1 basis, while other financial donations means a dollar-for-dollar match.

April 5, 2013
Related Topics: Work/Life Balance, Organizational Culture, Volunteerism, Values, Workplace Culture

As corporations become more targeted in their giving, they're focusing on issues that are most near and dear.

Unum Group, which provides workplace financial protection benefits, decided about five years ago to put much of its philanthropic focus on educational issues. "Education is critical to the economic development in the communities where we operate," says Joe Foley, Unum's chief marketing officer. "It's our future workforce."

The company, based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, employs about 10,000 people, and last year the corporation and its employees gave more than $13 million to philanthropic efforts.

Unum matches employee donations to educational programs on a 2-to-1 basis. For other financial donations, it's a dollar-for-dollar match.

Employees also are generous with their time, spending more than 100,000 hours a year volunteering; more than 350 employees are board members of various nonprofits.

The company also is a major supporter of the United Way in each city where it operates, making corporate contributions and collecting payroll deductions from employees. Each location sets up its own campaign committee, Foley says. "They take a lot of pride in matching or exceeding prior-year contributions."

Serving on a United Way committee or at a nonprofit organization creates leadership development opportunities for the company's employees. Unum "is a culture where personal development is important and leadership is important," Foley says.

Susan Ladika is a writer based in Tampa, Florida. Comment below or email Follow Workforce on Twitter at @workforcenews.

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