At the Office Depot Foundation, our approach to what we do is best expressed by the famous Chinese proverb: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
We are actively engaged and believe in teaching others how to fish as well as fishing with them.
Whether it is the corporation that needs a focused philanthropic program to lift employee spirit to a new level, the nonprofit organization that must fine tune its operations, or the individual looking to volunteer in his/her local community, we leverage our experience to provide education and support.
Every day, volunteers and the Office Depot associates who support them make a difference in the lives of people around the world through the Foundation’s programs. Our programs are diverse and allow people to have a choice in how they participate, making a significant impact on those who are reached.
Importantly, at the Office Depot Foundation, nothing is done alone. Work is executed collaboratively with select partners who share our dedication and commitment to be difference makers by strengthening the communities in which we live and work.
Our partners live by the adage that you do well by doing good. By working together to improve communities, there is universal benefit for everyone involved.
Office Depot Foundation programs focus on the following:
- Students in K-12 Title I schools who don’t have the tools they need to succeed
- Individuals who want to volunteer their time or donate but don’t always know the most effective ways to identify and support causes they are passionate about
- Start-up to mid-size nonprofit organizations that lack resources and expertise, and are unable to share and leverage best practices
- For-profit businesses of all sizes that want to make a positive impression and have a meaningful impact on communities, but lack the knowledge of how to accomplish this
- Communities that are unprepared for or need relief from disasters, and/or request other types of support
The Office Depot Foundation has continually developed and executed award-winning programs that are meaningful, innovative, strategic and collaborative in order to make a difference locally, nationally, and globally. These programs positively impact lives, strengthen organizations and build communities.
Equipping children with tools to succeed in school and in life
This strategic priority encompasses our programs and initiatives that seek to make a difference with children, their families, teachers, schools and the larger education community. One example:
National Backpack Program – Since the inception of this award-winning program in 2001, the Office Depot Foundation has donated more than 4 million colorful, kid-friendly backpacks and sackpacks containing essential school supplies to children and organizations across the United States and internationally. The sackpacks not only help kids prepare for school, but truly bring hope to children whose families couldn’t otherwise afford these products.
Engaging individuals who desire to make a difference in the world through their volunteer experiences, sharing information about their personal difference maker activities and making donations to worthy causes.
An example of the importance of volunteering is the Office Depot Foundation Caring Connection program.
The Office Depot Foundation recognizes the powerful role that volunteerism plays in the success of nonprofit organizations, the ability of a corporation to develop and execute philanthropic initiatives, and in strengthening our communities. As a result, we created the Caring Connection in collaboration with VolunteerMatch to have a user-friendly online resource that makes it easy to learn about and enroll in thousands of volunteer opportunities with nonprofit organizations across the country. Volunteerism is not only central to our belief in “teaching them how to fish” but also offers surprising benefits for the volunteer, including pride, satisfaction, and accomplishment − all worthwhile reasons to serve. In addition, when talent and time is shared, it goes a long way in terms of solving problems, connecting to others, and improving lives.
Enhancing the capabilities of nonprofit organizations by providing the business expertise, resources and collaboration that will assist in building their capacity while becoming more efficient and effective
This strategic priority represents the umbrella that covers the Foundation’s extensive portfolio of capacity-building initiatives. These include:
Office Depot Foundation Civil Society Leadership Symposium – Supporting our commitment to building the capacity of nonprofit organizations, the Office Depot Foundation hosts its annual Civil Society Leadership Symposium. Participants gain insight and knowledge from nationally prominent speakers; enjoy extensive opportunities to network with other nonprofits, small businesses, and community leaders; and learn about best practices and how to incorporate them into the important work they do every day.
Women’s Symposium – The Office Depot Foundation Women’s Symposium takes its participants to a whole new level of inspiration, motivation and education – with extraordinary networking opportunities that make it an exceptional experience. The Symposium brings together hundreds of like-minded, thoughtful, strong and driven women in an engaging, collaborative and personally transformative atmosphere.
Foundation Grants/Share Tank – The Office Depot Foundation is initiating an exciting new program for awarding grants to members of the Difference Maker! Movement called Share Tank. This program will be patterned after the successful TV show Shark Tank. We will have a day where members of the Difference Maker! Movement can present their grant proposals to a panel of judges.
Partnering with businesses to develop and implement philanthropic and volunteer programs that engage their employees and deliver meaningful results
This strategic priority highlights the Foundation’s capabilities to develop philanthropic and volunteer programs that specifically fit the needs of a business – no matter the size. We recognize the unique nature of each organization, its culture, and the desire to stimulate employee passion. Each program can be local, regional, national or international. For example:
Caring is Sharing – The Foundation works with Office Depot merchants and vendors to donate approximately several million dollars in product annually to national and international nonprofits. The majority of these donations have gone to Feed the Children, which distributes the items to other nonprofit organizations and schools worldwide. Not only does this program help the recipients stretch their budgets, but it also keeps items that might otherwise be thrown away in the hands of those in need.
Office Depot Support – As the charitable giving arm of Office Depot, the Office Depot Foundation has been called the heart and soul of the company. The Office Depot Foundation plays an important role in building morale among Office Depot associates and generating good will in the community. Office Depot associates regularly express the pride they have in their company based on the work the Foundation does and the difference it makes to children and families. Many associates show their appreciation by making donations to the Foundation to help accomplish philanthropic goals. Examples include:
- Marshaling volunteers to build a children’s playground in a local town
- Hosting Halloween festivities and other events at the global headquarters every year
- Scheduling National Backpack program events at company retail stores across the country
Corporate Philanthropic Management – The Foundation is embarking on an exciting initiative to assist businesses that do not have the knowledge or resources in creating and managing philanthropic programs. The Foundation will develop and/or oversee charitable giving programs. Businesses will benefit from this program by differentiating themselves from their peers, strengthening their brand image, attracting new customers, raising the profile of senior management, and bolstering morale and engagement.
Helping communities prepare for disasters and recover and rebuild afterwards
Since 1994, when the Office Depot Disaster Relief Foundation was established, we have clearly understood the impact that disasters can have on individuals, nonprofits and for-profit businesses, communities and even entire nations. Through the years, our philosophy has evolved from one that viewed disasters as isolated events to one that acknowledges the full spectrum of a disaster’s life cycle – from preparedness, to immediate relief when a disaster strikes, to short-term recovery and long-term rebuilding. Among other things, this strategic priority encompasses:
Coping with Disasters – To help small businesses and nonprofit organizations prepare for natural disasters as well as recover and rebuild in the aftermath of these tragic events, the Foundation has been the primary sponsor of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center’s National Disaster Help Desk for Business. This 24-hour, toll-free hotline – 1-888-MY-BIZ-HELP – provides essential information, expert guidance and connections to invaluable resources at times when people feel overwhelmed. The hotline, staffed by disaster relief and recovery professionals, answers questions and assists with overcoming roadblocks in order to help the integral network of small businesses get back up and running.
New Initiatives for Nonprofits
The Foundation prides itself on creating new initiatives on a consistent basis that address the issues and challenges our audiences have deemed important. These key themes include: Starting, Running, and Growing a nonprofit or for-profit business; Managing a board, staff, interns, and volunteers; Planning for the future; Fundraising and revenue-generation; Giving Back and making a difference; and Balancing work and life. Examples of some recent initiatives include:
Wing Women Wednesdays – Our in-person events hosted by non-profit and for-profit business leaders take flight each month at various locations across Palm Beach County. A Wing Woman is a person that always has your back – “that will support you when your wings are tired and celebrate you when you want to fly.” At this event, attendees set goals that will help them achieve their dreams and learn how to support each other during times of struggle.
Hanging Out at the Hive – Our live, weekly video broadcast features Foundation President Mary Wong and subject matter experts who provide best practices to tackle topics ranging from business growth to personal development.
Difference Maker! Video Chats – Our weekly video series highlights Foundation President Mary Wong and guest “difference makers” who talk about the things they are doing to positively impact local communities and society as a whole. Videos are posted every Friday on Facebook and uploaded on the Foundation’s YouTube channel.