​​Altria Companies Employee Community Fund Celebrates 15 Years of Employee Giving​​
15 years​  •  1,924 grants  •  $50.3 m​illion
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​​ACECF is a workplace-giving program managed directly by the employees at Altria's family of companies.​​

 

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​When Altria Companies Employee Community Fund was introduced in 2000, campaign literature declared, "We are creating a non-profit organization that will be managed by employees… This will be YOUR Fund to help our community."​​
Charlie Agee, Director of Corporate Citizenship for Altria, remembers the Fund's first year well. He was among those tasked with launching the revolutionary giving program in Richmond – an employee-driven effort entirely separate from the company's corporate giving.
"Employees wanted to come together to support community needs, and have the company support them in these efforts." Agee felt confident that employees would respond favorably to having a fund of their own. Yet even he couldn’t have anticipated the overwhelmingly positive employee response.​
 

​​​"A typical employee giving campaign tops out at about 30 to 33 percent participation. That's a really good campaign," explains Agee. "So it says a lot about our employees' dedica​tion to our community when you consider that about 65 percent of eligible employees support ACECF, close to two times the industry average."​ - Charlie

 
Charlie Agee, Cor​p​orate Citizenship


How the Fund is Unique
​​​​Established in 2000, the Fund is unique in a variety of ways:​

  • ​It is a nonprofit that exists within a Fortune 200 company. The Fund is recognized as a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) charity by the Internal Revenue Service.
  • Altria Group makes an annual contribution and pays for the Fund's administrative expenses, so that 100 percent of employee contributions go directly to organizations serving those in need.
  • Giving areas are determined by employees, and they consistently have chosen to provide funding in six areas:
    • Domestic and family violence
    • Emergency services
    • Homelessness
    • Hunger relief and nutrition
    • Senior services (including adults with disabilities)
    • Youth services (including youth with disabilities)​
  • Employees may nominate agencies for funding that fit within the focused giving areas.
  • Employees volunteer on the Campaign Committee to raise funds from our various companies and departments. Others serve up to two years on the Fund’s Grantmaking Committee and are trained to review and evaluate proposals.
  • Every dollar raised stays in the state where it was raised.  ACECF has evolved as our business has changed and today supports nonprofits beyond our headquarters community of Central Virginia to include llinois, Kentucky, Pennsylvania,Tennessee and Washington, D.C.
​"Company Values Resonated with My Personal Values"​

​​Austin Stokes was an adolescent when the Fund got its start in 2000. Today she is a territory sales manager for Altria Group Distribution Company. Shortly after joining the company two years ago, she began looking for ways to get more involved. ​
"My mom works for [the Altria family of companies], so company volunteer events – going back-to-school shopping with children served by the YMCA or helping at Junior Achievement – were part of what we'd done as a family," she explains. "I began to realize that the company values – especially the core value of 'sharing with others' – resonated with my personal values." She learned about the Fund online and was accepted to serve on the Grantmaking Committee in Virginia. The following year, she served as that committee’s chair. ​​
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​"Until I volunteered, I had no understanding of the ACECF process or the kind of money that was raised by our employees. I also had no idea that there was so much need in our community or the scope of organizations in Central Virginia that are doing unbelievable work."​ - Austin

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"It's hard to describe what it's like to learn that and then be able to directly impact those needs in one fell swoop. At the end of the two-day process where we award these grants, we all step back and look at the full portfolio of grants. There's this moment of 'Wow! This is huge. Millions of dollars are going out into the community and every dollar is going to a deserving organization.' It gets very emotional in the room."​
Cheryl Favale, Senior Manager of Human Resources for Altria Client Services, echoes that sentiment. "Serving on the Grantmaking Committee was unbelievable – just super rewarding days where you think, 'I can't believe I was able to participate in that.' It’s something every employee should experience."​​
​After serving for two consecutive years, Favale reluctantly must step off the committee this year. Her final act as a member was delivering an ACECF check to Virginia chapter of the ALS Association. It’s a cause that is dear to her heart. Favale’s mother is battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
​"We are very privileged in different ways," she says thoughtfully. "Most of us don't have a need for these organizations to the extent that others do, so we don't realize how much need is in our society. The Fund has given me such a greater appreciation for what we have and how great this company is. Our employees are so generous."
​To learn more about the ACECF, review the Fund’s 2016 Annual Report​.​​​
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