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13 Jul. 2015 | Comments (0)

In my most recent post, I described how a growing number of companies are working to support their employees in times of disaster or unexpected hardship. This week, let’s take a deeper dive into McKesson’s employee relief program.

McKesson, currently ranked 11th on the FORTUNE 500, is a healthcare services and information technology company dedicated to making the business of healthcare run better. Headquartered in San Francisco, McKesson has more than 76,000 employees. It’s the largest pharmaceutical distributor in North America and serves more than 50 percent of American hospitals.

Building on “pass-the-hat” practices

In 2013, McKesson acquired PSS World Medical, which had a legacy of informal “pass-the-hat” practices to support fellow employees experiencing disaster or personal hardship, such as house fires or catastrophic illness.

“McKesson recognized the value of PSS World Medical’s commitment to its employees, and our senior leaders were very supportive of the idea to carry on and formalize the program as McKesson’s ‘Taking Care of Our Own Fund,’” said Christine Lopez, president of the McKesson Foundation. This charitable fund was launched in 2014, seeded by generous contributions from both the McKesson Foundation and the McKesson Corporation, and E4E Relief was chosen as its partner to deliver the program.

In addition to strong support from McKesson’s leadership team, the fund garnered support from the ground level. “Knowing that McKesson’s Taking Care of Our Own Fund provides assistance to employees in response to financial hardships is impressive and heartwarming,” said Tina Lambrou, manager of employee experience at McKesson Medical-Surgical and a donor to the Fund. “Having the opportunity to make a personal contribution towards a noble cause gives me great satisfaction.”

How it works

McKesson’s Taking Care of Our Own Fund is available to all of the company’s U.S. employees. It provides grants to those experiencing a financial hardship resulting from a sudden or unexpected event, whether a natural disaster or an emergency hardship, and who meet eligibility guidelines.

This grantmaking program is fully administered by E4E Relief. The company retains responsibility for fundraising, using its own communications channels, and E4E Relief handles the rest. E4E Relief is responsible for all aspects of program delivery from evaluating the applications, to awarding the grant dollars while receiving and acknowledging donations, and providing detailed reporting.

This partnering model has many advantages for a company like McKesson, such as:

  • Providing impartiality during evaluation of employee grant applications

  • Increasing capacity to make the program more scalable, so that it becomes accessible to all employees and available immediately to support high-volume, episodic needs such as a natural disaster

  • Potentially creating a tax-efficient situation for donors, whether corporate or individual, and grant recipients alike

  • Allowing the company to remain focused on business priorities and continuity, because the employee relief fund partner handles the burden of grantmaking, program administration and IRS compliance.

McKesson Foundation president Christine Lopez recalled when Hurricane Katrina leveled the Gulf States and displaced hundreds of employees, a time before the Taking Care of Our Own Fund was launched. “We had a very small foundation team, and processing the volume of grant applications from employees, especially when the needs were so time sensitive, was quite challenging for us,” said Lopez. “Now, it is nice to know that in the event a disaster occurs, we have a robust program that increases our capacity to respond and help employees in need.”

Supporting employees in need

Since its 2014 launch, McKesson’s Taking Care of Our Own Fund has distributed more than $115,000 to nearly 50 employees in need. From catastrophic events like a death, accident, house fire, or short-term illness, to daily hardships like housing repairs, medical bills and car payments, McKesson employees have often turned to their company for support.

When one employee suffered the devastating loss of a spouse, she was awarded $5,000 for funeral expenses. Another employee experienced a house flood and was granted $4,556 for repairs. Yet another received $4,365 for evacuation expenses, food, clothing and toiletries after a house fire severely damaged her home.

With company-level support, an engaged employee base, strong corporate philanthropy and an impartial third-party partner, McKesson’s program is a model for how companies can support their own employee communities during challenging times. We are proud to work with the McKesson team.


This blog first appeared on TCB's Giving Thoughts blog on 06/30/2015.

View our complete listing of Talent Management and Mission&Purpose@Work blogs.

  • About the Author:Laura Meyer Wellman

    Laura Meyer Wellman

    Laura Meyer Wellman is President & CEO of E4E Relief, which works with corporations to establish charitable, company-specific disaster and hardship relief funds for their employees. Prior to assum…

    Full Bio | More from Laura Meyer Wellman


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