How supply chain companies get involved with charities
When people think of philanthropy, the first thoughts that pop into mind usually concern contributing money to nonprofit organizations or volunteering to help the less fortunate. Supply chains are generally not top of mind when one considers charitable donations. However, as the importance of corporate responsibility continues to grow and new options for philanthropic initiatives arise, supply chains across sectors are becoming more involved in charitable work.
Inventory management is one of the most important aspects of being a reliable link in the supply chain. As such, many warehouses make every possible effort to be able to fill orders as they come in. Sometimes this leads to being overstocked on certain items. In order to free up space in overcrowded warehouses, overstocked items must sometimes be moved.
A great way of eliminating overstocked items is product philanthropy, which is a process of donating unwanted items to nonprofits that can also result in significant tax deductions for companies with a lot of excess inventory. IRS Code Section 170(e)(3) discusses charitable donations of inventory and explains that companies can deduct the cost of the inventory plus as much as half the difference between its market value and its cost. Companies such as Walmart and Tempur-Sealy are known for delivering truckloads of overstocked goods to nonprofits with which they work.
Companies that can’t reallocate the labor or trucks to deliver items on their own can team up with gifts-in-kind nonprofits that collect products and distribute them to vetted nonprofits. Companies can join nonprofits such as Good360 for free and simply fill out a donations form to get involved. The nonprofit delivers goods and products internationally, offering disaster relief and assistance to those in need while also protecting the brand of donors by working only with other quality nonprofits.
Logistics companies can also do charity work in a more direct way by pairing up with organizations who need their support. American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN) is a supply chain network that connects disaster relief organizations with providers of the services they need. The company started in 2005 as a response to Hurricane Katrina when it became obvious that despite the abundance of donations to relief efforts, actually getting important items into the hands of the victims was a great challenge. Today, ALAN serves as a portal where nonprofits can post items and services they need and logistics companies can offer their services. Current listings include everything from warehouse space in Port of Palm Beach for assistance in the Bahamas to forklifts to move bricks and lumber in North Carolina.
The ability to keep up with the latest technology and have quality IT support are things that can also hold nonprofits back from achieving their goals. TechBridge is a nonprofit that specifically aids other nonprofits offering hunger relief. The organization offers IT services and strategy consulting, fundraising management, supply chain management, and more. All of this is to arm nonprofits fighting hunger with the same technology that has made large corporations successful.
Some larger charities are able to reach out on their own, taking their philanthropic offerings on the road without the help of external logistics companies. Ronald McDonald House is one such charity. Its Ronald McDonald Care Mobile program takes 40-foot-long vehicles with two examination rooms, a laboratory, and a reception room out on the road to visit children around the world. The Care Mobile offers immunizations, health education, checkups, and more to people who might otherwise not have access to doctors.
Supply Chain Companies Giving Back
Supply chain management company Shapiro has its own “humanitarian logistics program” which uses the company’s 100-plus years of international shipping experience and shares it with nonprofits. On top of lending its expertise to charities, Shapiro encourages employees to get involved on their own by matching their charitable contributions.
Of course, donating money to charities is also laudable and is done by some of the biggest names in logistics. Comprehensive Logistics donates to a wide range of charities from the Alzheimer’s Association and United Way to Boy Scouts of America. Transport company Ryder set up its own Ryder Charitable Foundation that supports and provides grants to organizations that meet their fundraising guidelines. Applications for the grants are accepted from Jan. 1 through April 30 every year.
There is a lot that goes into running a successful charity or nonprofit, beyond fundraising. One of the biggest challenges nonprofits of all sizes face is that of logistics. It’s good to know that so many notable supply chain companies are stepping up to do some good.