LendingTree reached a philanthropic milestone in 2020 with more than $1.76 million in charitable donations, nearly tripling its giving in a year underscored by a pandemic, financial crisis and racial unrest.
In 2019, the nonprofit LendingTree Foundation and LendingTree’s corporate philanthropy team donated a combined $618,000 to various charities and nonprofits. That number grew in 2020 by nearly 185% — a byproduct of efforts to “reset and strengthen our overall strategy to make the biggest impact,” said Ally Pinner, LendingTree’s employee engagement partner. “We felt it was more important than ever to give back to help those most affected” by hardships last year.
Those gifts included more than $95,000 in company matched donations; nearly $112,000 in employee contributions; and a sizable $1 million donation to Charlotte’s COVID-19 Response Fund, which supported a number of nonprofits helping people most affected by the pandemic. The LendingTree Foundation donated the first million dollars to the fund, which has totaled more than $23 million since its kickoff last March.
The LendingTree Foundation also provided a special 1.5x company match for employee donations to organizations working to eradicate racial injustice and promote social reform. The donations, part of an internal “Support Black Lives Matter” fundraising campaign, amounted to $46,300 and came on the heels of George Floyd’s slaying at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis last May.
“We feel it’s our social responsibility to use our success to give back and make an impact in our communities,” said Chief Human Resources Officer Jill Olmstead. “We encourage and support employees to be good corporate citizens through company giving programs, volunteerism and employee engagement opportunities and to find ways – big or small, monetary and other – to pay it forward and lend a hand for others.”
When it launched, the LendingTree Foundation adopted four strategic pillars to help focus its philanthropic and social impact: homeownership, upward mobility, financial wellness, and entrepreneurship and innovation.
Those guiding principles steer the foundation’s giving efforts as it seeks to help people overcome obstacles — financial or otherwise — and increase economic opportunities for individuals, businesses and communities.
“We want to give back to our communities and be a force for good while impacting individual’s lives,” Olmstead said. “By leveraging our experiences, expertise and employees and by focusing our efforts on our pillar areas…we believe we can achieve the greatest impact.”
Although the foundation’s pillars are paramount to informing how it gives, they don’t stop LendingTree from supporting a wide array of worthy causes.
For instance, the foundation partnered with EverFi, which provides students with financial education, to offer K-12 students access to financial literacy courses in North Carolina and California. Dubbed the Financial Roots program, the initiative reached 28 schools, 44 classrooms and 1,249 students.
There’s also the foundation’s $5,000 donation to the Isabella Santos Foundation, which aims to improve rare pediatric cancer treatment options in an effort to increase survival rates of children with cancer. The foundation gave an additional $1,000 to Wayfinders, which provides underserved youth with transformative life experiences in the form of summer camps, mentorships and year-round enrichment programs.
“There are times, based on our employees’ keen interests, that we support causes that go beyond our pillars as a way of honoring our employees’ volunteerism efforts,” Olmstead said. “Volunteerism and giving from employees matter a lot to us.”
Here are some other giving highlights:
- LendaHand Employee Relief Fund: The foundation donated $250,000 to the fund, created to help employees facing unforeseen financial hardships. Employees can use the fund, but also donate to help their teammates. Nineteen grants totaling $28,072 were awarded to employees in 2020.
- LISC Small Business Initiative: LendingTree pledged $225,000 to the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, which supports community development projects and advocates for affordable housing, equality and social justice. LendingTree gave $200,000 to support LISC’s small business initiative benefitting minority-owned small businesses in Charleston, S.C., and $25,000 for racial injustice and social reform efforts.
- NOAH/Housing Impact Fund: The LendingTree Foundation pledged $2.5 million to the Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing initiative, which aims to provide affordable housing for low-income residents in Charlotte. The foundation was one of the top contributors to this city-wide initiative.
- Alatheia Therapeutic Riding Center: LendingTree’s $10,000 contribution helped sponsor the annual Alatheia Riding Center Gala, which helps garner support for the nonprofit that uses horses to provide therapeutic activities to help develop core strength, balance, coordination and social and cognitive skills for people with disabilities.
- Charlotte Ballet & Charlotte Family Housing: Olmstead’s participation in the Charlotte Ballet’s Dancing with the Stars gala helped raise more than $415,000 that benefitted both the ballet and Charlotte Family Housing, which helps families experiencing homelessness. An additional $30,000 donation to CFH was made through our partnership with the Charlotte Hornets.
- Good Friends Charlotte: The LendingTree Foundation gave $25,000 to this women’s organization that helps clients move from financial fragility to stability.