News & Politics

Companies With a Heart

Golf tournaments. Chili cook-offs. Silent auctions. Employers do a lot to raise money for charity. Here are three winning ideas.

Want more ways to do good? Check out our full charity package.

Some of Washington’s most important philanthropy starts at work. Coworkers team up to run in charity races, clean up parks, and stuff backpacks full of school supplies.

Companies give everything from merchandise for silent auctions to cash—with such corporations as Capital One, Lockheed Martin, Giant, and Booz Allen Hamilton giving away millions each year.

Employers grant days off for volunteering and match employee donations. Still others, including Deloitte, Ernst & Young, and Marriott, mark anniversaries with a day of community service.

Colleagues often sit on volunteer committees that determine a firm’s charitable efforts. Looking for new ideas? Here are three innovative examples of how workplaces make a difference.

My Cat’s Cuter

Each month at Calvert Group, the Bethesda investment firm, there’s a fundraiser or volunteer opportunity planned by a different department. In June, the information-technology folks put on a contest: Employees submitted photos of cats, dogs, and other pets, and colleagues paid $1 to vote on the best. The contest and an accompanying bake sale netted $1,400 for the Montgomery County Humane Society.

Funds and Games

At ExxonMobil, the secret to its annual Favorite Charities Campaign—similar to a United Way drive—may be that it appeals not just to employees’ altruism but to their competitive spirit.

At Fairfax headquarters, employee groups—from engineering to management services—compete not only to sign up the highest percentage of payroll-deduction pledges but to raise the most additional funds during the two-week campaign. One group hosted a game similar to Monopoly but on a ten-by-ten-foot board with 150 players. They raised $10,000.

Competition works: 98 percent of ExxonMobil’s 2,450 local employees take part, raising nearly $2.5 million.

Casual for a Cause

Many companies do “denim days,” when employees who want to wear jeans to work contribute $5, say, to charity. O’Melveny & Myers has found a way to notch up its casual-dress fundraising.

The DC law firm brings in representatives from the coming day’s charity to talk about the nonprofit. “People can appreciate what they’re donating to,” says the firm’s Kimberly Newman. “When we do a speaker, as opposed to a run-of-the-mill denim day, we get more money.”

When the Washington Animal Rescue League came with a dog, it fetched $1,600, more than most jean days do.

>>Want more ways to do good? Check out our full charity package

Executive Editor

Sherri Dalphonse joined Washingtonian in 1986. She is the editor in charge of such consumer topics as travel, fitness, health, finance, and beauty, as well as the editor who handles such cover stories as Great Places to Work, Best of Washington, Day Trips, Hidden Gems, Top Doctors, and Great Small Towns. She lives in DC.