Pfizer couples $1.6 billion in in-kind with foundation programs. By Ret Boney
Last year, drug maker Pfizer gave away more than $1.6 billion, almost all of it in the form of medications, making it the largest corporate donor of 2005.
That generosity is imbedded in the corporate culture of the 157-year old company, says Rick Luftglass, executive director of the Pfizer Foundation.
“One of our core emphases is around access to health care and medicine,” he says. “Therefore, the concept of in-kind here is using the specific type of resources we have for philanthropic purposes.”
Those donated medications benefited about 2 million low-income or uninsured patients in the U.S. last year around diseases like diabetes and high cholesterol, while its international donation program focused primarily on infectious diseases in Africa and other less-developed areas.
Driven in part by pharmaceutical companies, giving of product has been the fastest-growing form of corporate giving over the past five years, says Dwight Burlingame, associate executive director of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.
“Most of what is going on is strategic and focused on how one’s gifts can also support one’s corporate business goals,” says Burlingame.
While Pfizer’s in-kind program is mammoth, its other philanthropic efforts, spearheaded by the Pfizer Foundation, are complementary and equally important, says Luftglass.
The corporate foundation, with $350 million in assets and an annual grants budget of about $69 million, focuses its efforts in three main areas that align with the company’s core competencies: health care, innovation and education, and employee engagement.
Pfizer is a research-based health-care company, and its Southern HIV/AIDS Program, which focuses on nine southern states where the epidemic is growing, brings that expertise to grassroots nonprofits.
Over the past three years, the foundation has invested $6 million in 23 groups to provide resources to boost prevention efforts and to build the recipient organizations’ capacity to deliver services.
“We spent as much money on the infrastructure of these organizations as we did on providing resources,” says Luftglass.
The Pfizer Science and Math Explorers Program capitalizes on the company’s strengths in innovation and education by working in 30 communities to improve science education in kindergarten through 12th grade.
More than 2,000 company scientists and engineers volunteer to help teachers develop curriculums and renovate their labs, giving teachers better tools and a better environment in which to teach.
Mobilizing the company’s 100,000 employees is also important, says Luftglass.
That happens through coordinated giving to United Way, an employee matching-gifts program, and grants to nonprofits where employees volunteer.
About half the company’s U.S. workforce of 45,000 participates in those programs, which Luftglass says together drive about $30 million in charitable giving.
“The foundation supports the next generation of scientists and reinforces the company’s commitment to health care that we have for all patients,” he says.