Our founder Herb famously said, “We manage in good times so that we'll do well in bad times.” As a Company, we see the impact of this in many of our business practices like fleet management, schedule planning, and fuel hedging to name a few. But did you know we have also bolstered our community outreach strategy to weather any storm? A few years ago, the Community Outreach Team set out to safeguard our business of connecting People and championing communities, and one strategic part of that was establishing the Southwest Airlines Foundation.
The Southwest Airlines Foundation
Over the years, Southwest has grown into a trusted global corporate citizen, and in 2019, we invested more than $24 million into our communities through cash, travel, and other in-kind support. The Southwest Airlines Foundation is one of the many ways we can continue our commitment to social impact and community resilience. In these tough economic times, we have scaled back some of our financial investments. However, we can continue to take care of communities in need by carefully leveraging the Southwest Airlines Foundation along with our other in-kind resources, including our heart-filled volunteer efforts, to invest in nonprofit organizations.
For example, when the global pandemic forced the cancellation of the Southwest LUV Classic Golf Tournament & Party, Southwest doubled down on our commitment by investing $1 million (with grants from the LUV Classic Special Event fund at Silicon Valley Community Foundation) across 96 markets to support 101 nonprofits serving children and families affected by COVID-19. Additionally, we made two impactful donations to long-time partners the National Urban League and 100 Black Men of America to demonstrate our commitment to championing diverse communities in these times of social unrest. With our extreme focus on controlling costs this year, it would have been impossible to make these donations had it not been for the funds preserved.
Investing our Company dollars wisely
The purpose of any foundation is to create a permanent trust where corporate charitable donations can be preserved and invested for future use. Our Leaders recognized the value in creating the Southwest Airlines Foundation and we investigated the options to best suit our long-term needs. In the end, we chose a Corporate Advised Fund (CAF) model, which provides the benefits of a charitable foundation, but with less cost, overhead, and legal requirements than starting a nonprofit from scratch.
Recently, Southwest was featured on the Philanthropy Now podcast with Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF). To learn more, listen to the podcast to hear how we’ve leveraged our Foundation to stand by our communities this year.
The Southwest Airlines Foundation is an important component of our overall social responsibility efforts and has been a vital asset to helping us continue to support our communities in these difficult times. Whether in the air or on the ground, community is at the Heart of what brings us together.