By Jackie Hanson
The culture of corporate giving is clear in Guam and the Northern Marianas — a characteristic rooted in the generous nature of the local people that has now become common practice in the business community.
Companies factor tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands into their annual budgets in order to sponsor various events and support the causes of their choice, whether nonprofit organizations, public offices and agencies, schools or sports teams. Companies also have a strategy for discretionary funds to respond to a large number of solicitation letters that come in on a daily basis. One company shared that it receives five to 10 requests for monetary donations per day.
Though the companies cannot fund every request, they still make a substantial difference in the capabilities of their beneficiaries.
“Without those donations, there is no way we can keep our doors open 24/7 because we are not federally or locally funded,” says Chita A. Blaise, CEO of the Guam Chapter of the American Red Cross. “We rely entirely upon the generosity of the community, and the community is aware of that.”
Tax Exempt World lists 157 nonprofit organizations in Guam reporting a total of $20.87 million in income. The Northern Mariana Islands has 83 nonprofits listed on the website, reporting $4.04 million in income.
In this first-ever look at the generosity of companies in the region, Guam Business asked the companies doing business in Guam and NMI to provide their total dollar amount of cash and in-kind contributions in 2015. The results are listed here, ranked by total amount donated.
The total amount reported in our list of cash donations totals $1.32 million in Guam and $580,376 in the NMI. In-kind donations total $1.69 million in Guam and $907,150 in the NMI. The average of total cash and in-kind donations per company in 2015 was about $150,000. While the list is not comprehensive — we are reporting on 19 companies in Guam and 12 in the NMI — it provides some important indications as to charitable giving in our region.
The top recipients of donations, as indicated by the participating companies, are the American Red Cross, American Cancer Society, United Services Organization, Make-A-Wish Foundation and Salvation Army.
“My donors have been consistently generous,” Blaise says. “… and I attribute that to the fact that American Red Cross is always very visible. … The community is always informed as to what the Red Cross is doing in the aftermath of any disaster, big or small, and I think that’s very important as far as the donors are concerned because they know exactly where their dollars are going.”
Though many consider cash donations to be the most useful to a nonprofit, an argument can be made that in-kind donations are equally important in the islands. Especially following typhoons, like Typhoon Soudelor, when the need for goods is urgent and store supply is limited, in-kind donations shipped in from neighboring islands become more important than cash.
Beyond donations, businesses encourage their employees to get involved with volunteer efforts. Few companies track their employees’ volunteer hours, but many indicated various causes their employees assist with to include highway and island cleanups, event support, fundraising efforts and donating time to educate children and the community.
The figures on our list are self-reported by the participating companies, with some information incomplete. Any blanks do not indicate that the company did not participate or contribute in those areas but rather that no information was provided by that company in that category.
We look forward to making this an annual feature of Guam Business and hope to include many more companies in the future that are certainly worthy of recognition.