Local employees of one of Richmond’s biggest corporate givers donated a total of $2.45 million in grants to 88 local nonprofits on Tuesday.
The money was raised as part of the Altria Companies’ Employee Community Fund (ACECF) and was distributed at a reception at the company’s West End headquarters. Local nonprofits that received the grants include Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Richmond & Tri-Cities, ART 180 and Caritas, Altria said.
The fund is an employee-managed workplace giving program. Two-thirds of eligible employees – about 3,500 people – gave this year, and the average donation was at least $450, ACECF said in a press release.
Some Altria employees are not considered eligible because local laws or other factors prohibit ACECF from soliciting them for donations.
Brad Ewald, an Altria analyst and co-chair of the ACECF grant-making committee, said the fund allows the employees to decide where to send their donations.
“If I pool together and get thousands of people to pool together in one spot, the impact I can make is so much greater,” Ewald said.
Ewald said employees choose several areas of giving – like hunger relief or youth services – and collect grant applications from local nonprofits. The committee decides how to best dole out the money. The grants are limited to $40,000 each.
This year, for example, Big Brothers Big Sisters received $30,000.
Adding in Altria employees in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee, the fund gave $3.1 million combined to nonprofits this year, the company said. In its 14 years of existence, ACECF has given $43.1 million.
In addition to employee donations, Altria also gives an annual contribution to the fund and covers the fund’s administrative costs.
Altria, which has about 9,000 employees nationwide, is a major charitable donor both locally and nationally. The tobacco giant gave nearly $12 million to local nonprofits in 2013 and contributed a total of $46 million nationally, according to figures provided by the company.
It topped Richmond BizSense’s inaugural Generosity Inc. list, a ranking of the area’s most generous corporate donors.