Northwest Arkansas nonprofits will benefit from $2 million Walmart and the Walmart Foundation plan to contribute this summer through community volunteerism in a pilot program called Walmart Gives NWA.
The program runs from June 8 through Aug. 24 and it encourages regional residents and Walmart employees to donate time and/or money to eligible 501(c) 3 organizations who will receive matching funds from Walmart.
Erin Turner Hogue, director of community operations and Northwest Arkansas Giving at the Walmart Foundation, told Talk Business & Politics this is a pilot program and the retail giant hopes to learn and possibly expand in the future. She said Walmart will match 2:1 donations by Walmart employees up to $1 million. For the community at large, Walmart is donating $10 per hour for volunteer time at Northwest Arkansas nonprofits up to $1 million, for a combined pledge of $2 million by the retail giant.
“Giving is in Walmart’s DNA and this pilot program is an extension of Walmart’s ongoing work to support local communities,” Hogue said. “Walmart associates throughout the company volunteered more than 775,000 hours to non-profit causes last year through Walmart’s Volunteering Always Pays (VAP) program.”
She said the new program allows cash donations by Walmart for as little as one hour volunteered for qualifying organizations. In some cases, volunteers may generate cash for nonprofits, in addition to the time they are already passionate about serving. By working with Austin-based GivePulse, Walmart is able to extend the opportunity to the general public who can ramp up their giving and service to benefit local charities and nonprofits in Benton and Washington counties.
Hogue said it’s the first time Walmart has worked with GivePulse, which is an online portal that connects volunteers with community projects. She said feedback from local nonprofits and Walmart employees led the company to leverage technology to make the process more effortless for the nonprofits. She said the new Walmart-GivePulse site is a way to connect individuals with the causes they want to support.
She said some nonprofits in the region already had a relationship with GivePulse which has been successful since launching in 2012. GivePulse says it has helped more than 100,000 groups by bringing people together to make social change. More than 5 million hours have been recorded across the U.S. with the help of the GivePulse web portal.
“There are lots of volunteers already giving their time and energy to local nonprofits. By signing up with GivePulse these non-profits can take part in the Walmart Gives NWA campaign to generate more funds for the organizations they are passionate about serving. GivePulse is holding webinars for those nonprofits who don’t already use their portal and providing other resources to help get them onboard,” Hogue said.
When asked why Walmart chose Northwest Arkansas as the place for the pilot program, Hogue said the retailer already works with so many nonprofits in this region and the culture of giving is big, which makes NWA a great place to start.
Community members taking part in the program must have a GivePulse account and have recorded eligible volunteer time through GivePulse within the campaign dates. To trigger a campaign grant, the nonprofit will be required to confirm the hours volunteered and certify that the volunteer time met campaign guidelines.
Walmart announced the new community giving campaign at a recent Saturday morning meeting following its annual shareholder meeting. Earlier that week, Walmart announced its “Walmart Rise” $24 million giving campaign aimed at engaging store employees and customers in supporting community projects.
“We’ve been on a journey over the last few years to strengthen our business. It started with investing in education, training and wages for our people. We’ve invested in our stores and eCommerce and delivered lower prices to our customers. Now, we’re focused on further strengthening our role in communities, transforming our community giving and deepening our local relationships,” said Greg Foran, president and CEO, Walmart U.S.