Reflecting on Boeing's Philanthropy Footprint

June 15, 2016

As Philanthropy Northwest honors our 40th year of connecting funders across our region in 2016, we also celebrate a major milestone with the Northwest's largest employer and one of our lead sustaining partners: The Boeing Company turns 100 this summer!

Our close ties with Boeing include our relationship with Elizabeth (Liz) Warman, elected to Philanthropy Northwest's board of directors in September 2011 in her capacity as the aerospace company's director of global corporate citizenship for the Northwest region. From April 2010 until her retirement earlier this year, she managed the company’s charitable giving and employee engagement in Washington. She also serves on the boards of the Washington Alliance for Better Schools, the Workforce Development Council of King County, the Manufacturing Industrial Council of Seattle, and the Evans School of Public Affairs Advisory Committee. A Pacific Northwest native, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Washington State University and a master’s degree from the University of Washington’s Evans School.

Between Boeing's centennial celebrations and grateful salutes from community partners, Philanthropy Northwest asked Liz to share some insights into the company's philanthropy history and culture — from Bill Boeing's 1917 gift to the University of Washington to its next century of Northwest partnerships.

What brought you to Boeing and Philanthropy Northwest?

I was hired by Boeing in 1986 in Portland, Oregon to create and manage the company's community relations and philanthropic footprint. In 1995, I transferred to the Puget Sound region to manage community and government relations for the company. Thus began the journey of getting to know the community that is very much my home today! Boeing has 100 years of philanthropic commitment to this region. When offered the opportunity in 2010 to lead Boeing's philanthropic and volunteerism efforts in the Northwest, I saw this as a great opportunity to continue Boeing's legacy of community support.

How does Boeing structure its corporate giving?

Boeing's grantmaking and volunteer programs exist where we have facilities and employees throughout the U.S. and the world. Boeing's charitable and volunteerism programs are supported by a broad corporate strategy — but each local community citizenship team manages that strategy to the unique community needs, acknowledging that priorities may differ across the country and the globe.

Our partnership with our Employees Community Funds is a unique model, managed by an elected board of employee trustees, that ensures 100% of employee dollars goes to local nonprofit organizations. In 2015, the Employees Community Fund of Boeing Puget Sound provided over $8 million to health and human services locally. While I am very proud of all the citizenship work Boeing supports, the partnership between our employees and Boeing with the ECF is not only part of our combined culture and commitment to the community in Puget Sound and the Northwest, but the long legacy of supporting the health of our region.

What are Boeing's priorities and strategies for philanthropy, as an employer and corporate citizen?

Boeing's current grantmaking targets five focus areas: arts and culture; civic; education (early learning and K-12); environment; and health and human services. We have a rigorous competitive process based on strict alignment to the local strategies within each of the focus areas. Boeing also matches all employees’ monetary and volunteer hours to nonprofit organizations. Last year, Boeing, our employees and retirees supported local nonprofit organizations in Washington by over $50 million. This commitment to the community locally by Boeing and our employees has a very long legacy.

How has the company's expanding footprint over the past century — now including major hubs across the country and abroad — impacted its Northwest community engagement?

As Boeing has grown globally, Boeing leadership has increased the amount of international philanthropy to the countries where we have facilities and employees. One of the unique programs managed by the Puget Sound corporate citizenship team is our Humanitarian Delivery Flight program. Partnering with our Boeing Commercial Sales team, our global customers and international aid organizations, we are able to support 10 to 12 humanitarian delivery flights per year. These collaborations with our customers have facilitated aid to regions of the world after natural disasters, famines and droughts. The program was started in 1992 and continues today partnering with local, national and international aid NGOs.

Seattle Alliance Outreach board members Nuru Tuku (left) and Bahiru Egziabihar (right) stand next to pallets filled with medical supplies headed to their charity’s clinic in Ethiopia. Many of the items were paid for by Boeing employees.

What's Boeing's biggest challenge for philanthropy?

The biggest challenge in philanthropy today is targeting investments to help our most vulnerable populations have the opportunity to be successful in education and in life. We are fortunate we live and work in a region where there is much collaboration on these complex societal issues. Our future success on moving the needle is our communities, leaders and nonprofits continuing that legacy of working together.

What do you see as the biggest philanthropy success of your time with Boeing?

Boeing is one of the few corporate funders still funding civic organizations that support dialogue and leadership around today's complex issues. Last year, we were also able to make some large strategic investments in storm water management, water quality and habitat restoration partnering with the Nature Conservancy, Long Live the Kings and the Washington Storm Water Center, funding work that will help to improve the health of our Puget Sound waterways.

It's wonderful to hear from Boeing partners discussing their programs and how the company has helped them succeed in our collaborations around education, environment, civic engagement and more:

While all of my assignments at Boeing have been rewarding, leading our Global Corporate Citizenship team in the Northwest has been such a privilege. Helping to continue the long legacy of Boeing's commitment to this region will always be one of the best opportunities I have been given.

What are your plans for the future?

I plan to stay in Puget Sound supporting a number of nonprofit organizations near and dear to my heart, including Philanthropy Northwest. Along with my fellow board members, we look forward to a successful conference in Missoula, Montana in September. I also am enjoying being a tourist in my own city, soaking up the culture, the sights and sounds and people in this place called the Puget Sound.

Liz Warman retired from Boeing earlier this year; her position is now held by Sam Whiting, previously president and CEO of Thrive Washington. She will continue serving on Philanthropy Northwest's board of directors through 2016. For more information on Boeing corporate giving and community engagement, visit Boeing in Washington and sign up for our Corporate E-Bulletin.