The General Motors Foundation

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The General Motors Foundation

The General Motors Foundation

Taylor L Darby

Northwood University


Abstract

The General Motors Foundation is an organization with focuses on sustainability, safety, and STEM education to secure a role in the future of the automotive industry. Various initiatives help the foundation achieve these goals and with a revised mission to make an impact on a global level these goals will only grow. The GM Foundation is funded entirely by its parent company, General Motors while also benefiting from employees who donate their time to events and causes sponsored by the foundation. While grant applications are not currently being accepted, in the foundation’s history, it opened applications for a specific time and then from those application selected the programs it would support. General Motors does not have a perfect history and has overcome many adversities, but through it all the GM Foundation managed to remain fit and generous. The organization celebrated its 40th birthday this year and hopes to make a positive influence for many years to come with its new course.


The General Motors Foundation

The General Motors (GM) Foundation was fashioned in 1976 by its parent company, General Motors, with a purpose to support and strengthen communities across the country. However, in the past year GM has decided to take the foundation in a new direction renaming it GM Philanthropy and Corporate Giving with the transition taking place at the end of the 2016 calendar year (Cain, 2016). The foundation focuses on donating money to projects in the areas of sustainability, STEM education, safety, and to teamGM Cares which is comprised of employees who volunteer in the communities where GM operates (General motors, 2016). “In the last decade alone, the GM Foundation has provided more than $261 million in grants to American charities, educational organizations and disaster relief efforts worldwide,” reports the foundation’s parent company, General Motors (General motors, 2016). All funding for the GM Foundation is provided by General Motors unless in cases where the foundation matches donations given by its employees.

After recently pushing the foundation to expand its philanthropic reach, General Motors named Jackie Parker as the director, global philanthropy and corporate giving who has the daily tasks of accepting grant applications, selecting which grants fall under the foundation’s purpose, and seeing through all projects that are taken on by the organization (Welch, 2015). Although the Foundation has seen great success in recent years, this has not always been the case. The organization’s ethics and mission were questioned during the company buyout, the recession and the ignition switch controversy. During the recession the organization was praised for its continued support of charities in its area, but as money became more scarce the GM Foundation turned a focus to a program called GM Volunteer PLUS which donated $250 to any organization at which an employee donated 50+ hours of his/her time (Smith, 2008). This program helped to reduce the pressure on the foundation to give large grants allowing it to make numerous smaller donations in its place.

As for any automotive manufacturer, a sensitive issue is a recall and when General Motors had its recent recall delay after a faulty ignition switch led to multiple deaths, the GM Foundation began vigorously publicizing awards from organizations which the foundation had previously made large monetary donations (Plus Media Solutions, 2015). This push raised the eyebrows of many business people, resulting in the National Legal and Policy Center’s request for a disclosure of all contributions given to charitable and nonprofit organizations by the General Motors Foundation in hopes to ensure that the company wasn’t using the PR campaign to receive awards illegally and unethically. Through economic low points and leadership transitions the GM Foundation has continued giving according to its mission, giving hope and support to many community members and organizations who otherwise may not be able to survive.