03/04/2013 08:06 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Boy Scouts Received Donations From 1 In 7 Fortune 500 Companies

One in seven Fortune 500 companies gave to the Boy Scouts

Among the corporations that make up the current Fortune 500 -- Fortune magazine’s yearly list of the top 500 American companies ranked by revenue -- about one in seven, or 14 percent, each donated at least $10,000 to the Boy Scouts of America in 2010, despite the organization’s longtime ban of gays and lesbians.

Many of those donors, like Comcast and Kraft Foods Group, have policies that are supposed to prohibit funding organizations that discriminate based on sexual orientation.

Together, 69 companies donated nearly $5.3 million to the Boy Scouts that year.

The list of Boy Scout donors includes household names such as Campbell’s Soup, Macy’s, Morgan Stanley, and Sprint.

Public scrutiny over the Boy Scouts’ discrimination against gays and lesbians and its much-publicized proposal to revisit the gay ban has led some of the Boy Scouts’ corporate donors to take sides in the matter. Corporations like KeyBank and Intel have decided to pull funding from the Scouts, while companies like ketchup-maker H.J. Heinz Ketchup have said they will continue supporting the Scouts.

No atheists, agnostics, or homosexuals allowed

Last July, the Boy Scouts of America announced that it was reaffirming its policy of excluding “open and avowed homosexuals” from serving as Boy Scouts and troop leaders. Significant public outcry and organizing followed, and earlier this year, the Scouts’ executive board promised to revisit its national anti-gay policy at the BSA’s national board meeting in early February.

However, BSA officials have been clear that even if the organization removes the national policy restricting membership based on sexual orientation, that would not apply directly to chartered organizations or local units, meaning individual troops could still bar gays and lesbians from membership or employment.

“Under this proposed policy, the BSA would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs,” BSA spokesman Deron Smith said in a statement last month.

But after significant pressure from social conservative groups, the BSA’s board did not revisit the policy this month, instead pushing a decision to the Scouts’ general membership meeting in May.

Adding to the uproar, this month the Human Rights Campaign recently uncovered a BSA job application professing employment discrimination against “known or avowed homosexuals,” as well as atheists and agnostics:

Accordingly, in the exercise of its constitutional right to bring the values of Scouting to its youth members, the Boy Scouts of America will not employ atheists, agnostics, known or avowed homosexuals, or others as professional Scouters or in other capacities in which such employment would tend to interfere with its mission of reinforcing the values of the Scout Oath and the Scout Law in young people.

The application noted that felony convictions are "not an automatic bar to employment."

The American Independent searched the Fortune 500 corporate foundations’ tax filings for 2010, the most recent year these tax statements were available for all of the companies. That search turned up 69 major corporations that each donated at least $10,000 to the Boy Scouts despite its ban on gays.

The 46 highlighted in this story is in addition to the 23 corporations TAI identified last September. A minority of the Fortune 500 companies did not have charitable foundations and therefore did not have publicly available tax forms.

All told, 69 corporations donated $5.3 million to the Boy Scouts of America and its subdivisions in 2010, including the BSA’s national headquarters, regional councils, and local troops.

That funding could cause corporations to have downgraded ratings from the nation’s largest LGBT lobby, the Human Rights Campaign.

Earlier this month, HRC announced that corporations that have donated to the BSA would lose points on the group’s Corporate Equality Index, which rates corporations on LGBT-inclusiveness.

“To receive a perfect score, companies would have to prohibit philanthropic giving to non-religious organizations that have a written policy of anti-gay discrimination, or permit its chapters, affiliates, or troops to do so,” reads a press statement HRC released last month.

In that statement, HRC President Chad Griffin argued that the BSA’s proposed policy reversal would not lead to the “full inclusion” of gay Scouts and troop leaders.

“While it is good news that the onerous national ban will come to an end, it’s not acceptable to abdicate nondiscrimination standards to local units,” Griffin said. “It’s akin to a national restaurant chain saying that it will not discriminate at its corporate headquarters, but allow local restaurants to discriminate at will.”

Taking sides

Already one corporation is trying to conform with HRC’s new policy.

KeyBank Foundation, a charitable foundation funded by KeyCorp, under which KeyBank is a subsidiary, gave the Scouts about $44,000 in 2010, including $25,000 to the Boy Scouts’ National Council. However, the corporation and its foundation have been revamping all of its charitable giving to bring it in line with HRC’s expectations.

“We are reviewing our grant-making policies in light of the Boy Scouts’ policies,” said KeyBank spokeswoman Lynne Woodman in a phone interview. “It’s undergoing a rigorous review.”

Woodman said KeyBank has consistently scored 100 percent on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index, something the company takes pride in.

“We are equally strong about public support to our community and diversity and inclusion,” Woodman said. “We want to ensure that we are fully inclusive in word and deed.”

KeyBank joins Intel, the United Parcel Service, and Merck in adjusting corporate policy to ensure funds don’t go to organizations that discriminate based on sexual orientation -- organizations like the Boy Scouts of America.

Other corporations are standing in support of the Boy Scouts, however.

Publix Super Markets, a chain of grocery stores in the southeast, gave about $339,000 to the Boy Scouts in 2010.

Publix told TAI that it has no plans to change its policy.

“Publix Charities has not made any changes to the funding of the Boy Scouts,” said Publix spokeswoman Maria Brous in an email. “We believe in the leadership & life skills Scouting teaches.”

Western & Southern Financial Group gave $30,000 to the Boy Scouts in 2010 and said it would continue that funding in the future.

“Western & Southern Financial Fund has been a long-term supporter of the Boy Scouts over many years,” corporate spokesman José D. Marques said in an email. “As we have done in the past, the Financial Fund plans to continue evaluating all future requests from the Scouts as it does for requests for contributions from any organization.”

Ketchup-maker H.J. Heinz Company gave $12,000 to the Scouts during the fiscal year ending April 27, 2011 -- and stands by those donations.

"The H.J. Heinz Company Foundation has had a long-term partnership with the Boy Scouts of America for the past 25 years and that partnership continues today,” Heinz spokesman Michael Mullen said in an email.

Non-discrimination policies

Several Fortune 500 companies gave to the Boy Scouts or its subdivisions while maintaining policies that restrict donations to groups that discriminate based on sexual orientation.

Reynolds American Inc. is the parent company of American Spirit cigarette-maker Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, which manufactures Camel, Kool, and Winston cigarettes. Reynolds American, gave about $155,000 to Boy Scout entities in 2010, including $153,795 to the BSA’s Old Hickory Council, based in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Reynolds’ grant guidelines say that a potential grantee “must generally be ... operated and organized so that it does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, age, or disability, in terms of hiring practices, service provisions or board-member selection.”

Former Boy Scout Matt Comer recently told a Winston-Salem Fox affiliate in late January that when he was 14, he was kicked out of the Old Hickory Council in 2000 for being gay.

ConAgra Foods Inc., which makes a large number of brand-name foods, such as Slim Jim, Peter Pan peanut butter, Wesson cooking oils, and Chef Boyardee, gave about $50,000 to various Boy Scout entities during its fiscal year ending May 30, 2010.

Yet ConAgra has a matching-grant program for its employees, which says gifts are ineligible if they are intended for “organizations that discriminate based on race, color, creed, sex, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, or national origin.”

Textron, Inc., which owns subsidiaries that make military equipment such as the AH-1 Cobra helicopter, Cessna airplanes, and the E-Z- GO brand of golf carts, also has a nondiscrimination policy regarding corporate donations.

Textron’s grant corporate giving guidelines state that, “Contributions will not be made to ... [o]rganizations that discriminate by race, creed, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, age or any other basis prohibited by law.”

Textron gave nearly $39,000 to the Scouts, including $5,000 to the BSA’s headquarters in Irving, Texas.

Internet, cable, and television provider Comcast also has a policy that bars funding for groups that discriminate based on sexual orientation. The frequently asked questions section of the Comcast Foundation website states that Comcast will not fund “organizations that practice discrimination by race, gender, religion, age, sexual orientation or national origin.”

Comcast’s charitable foundation donated about $41,000 to the Boy Scouts in 2010 and listed the Boy Scouts as a beneficiary in 2011 on the foundation’s website.

Darden Restaurants, which owns the Olive Garden and Red Lobster chains, gave $15,000 to the Boy Scouts for the fiscal year ending May 30, 2010.

Darden has a policy that states: “All applicants must not discriminate in their membership or provisional services on the basis of race, religion, creed, national origin, disability, handicap, age, sexual orientation, marital status, veteran status or any other basis prohibited by law.”

Kraft Foods, which along with its own brand of products also makes Oscar Mayer, Velveeta, and Jell-O, gave almost $16,000 through its Dollars for Doers program.

The Kraft Foods Foundation’s matching-gifts guidelines include an affirmation from employees that the program they are donating to does not discriminate.

It states:

I certify that, to the best of my knowledge, this organization does not advocate or support policies, or practice activities that discriminate on the basis of an individual's race, religion, color, age, sex, disability, national origin, sexual orientation, marital status, citizenship status, protected veteran status or status in any group protected by state or local law.

Kraft’s employee volunteering program, Dollars for Doers, has similar guidelines:

Non-eligible organizations also include those that advocate or support policies, or practice activities that discriminate on the basis of an individual’s race, color, age, sex, disability, national origin, sexual orientation, marital status, citizenship status, protected veteran status or status in any group protected by state or local law.

Kraft spokeswoman Niya Moon said in an email, “It’s possible that a donation was made by a local office or our foundation matched a personal contribution from an employee through our matching gifts program.”

Moon declined to comment further except to say that Kraft’s donations were small amounts to local Scouts organizations through the company’s employee donation program.

BSA donors, by industry

Many of the Boys Scouts’ corporate donors in 2010 hailed from the financial services industry.

Aon, a reinsurance broker, gave about $84,000 in 2010, including $40,000 to the BSA’s Greater New York Councils, which openly opposed the policy barring gays from serving in the past.

Though the GNYC has a policy that states it opposes “any form of unlawful discrimination,” it’s unclear whether the GNYC allows openly gay Scouts and leaders.

Pacific Life, a life-insurance company based in Newport Beach, Calif., gave $50,000 to the Orange County Council of the Boy Scouts in 2010.

According to the Pacific Life Foundation, the foundation has already given to the Scouts in 2013.

Mutual of Omaha, an insurance and financial services company in Omaha, Neb., gave $50,000 to the Boy Scouts, including $40,000 to the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Mutual of Omaha also gave $10,000 to the Scouts in 2012, according to the company’s year-end report.

Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Foundation gave about $22,000 to the Scouts in 2010.

“Boy Scouts of America is outside the Thrivent Financial for Lutherans Foundation’s main granting guidelines, so the issue is really not a matter of direct impact to us,” said Thrivent Financial spokeswoman Callie Briese in an email. “Thrivent Financial is proud of employees’ and members’ generosity and involvement in communities they care about.”

Thrivent donates frequently to Lutheran churches and community groups. Additionally, members can make donor-advised contributions through the foundation.

Morgan Stanley gave $14,000 to the Boy Scouts in 2010.

The company provided TAI a statement that said, “The Morgan Stanley Foundation provides support to several local Boy Scout chapters where Morgan Stanley employees have volunteered a significant amount of time and applied for a grant, and also where the chapters have signed an affirmation of nondiscrimination which includes sexual orientation.”

Lincoln Financial Group gave about $18,000 in 2010, which was its last direct donation to the Scouts, according to a representative for the company.

The foundation does continue to donate to the Scouts through an employee volunteer program and an employee-matching program.

Companies involved in the heavy industry sector gave a considerable amount to the Scouts.

Oshkosh Corporation gave $10,000 between Oct 1, 2009, and Sept. 30, 2010, but that donation appears to be Oshkosh’s last.

“If I remember, that was a contribution locally, not the national office,” said Oshkosh corporate spokesman John Daggett in an email. “They haven't approached us since 2010.”

Macy’s gave just over $80,000 to the Boy Scouts during its fiscal year ending Jan. 29, 2011. About $75,000 of that went to the Dan Beard Council, based in Evendale, Ohio.

"Our policy excludes self styled practicing homosexuality” within the Boy Scouts," said Dan Beard Council Scout Executive Tom Dugger in an interview with ABC affiliate WCPO in Cincinnati, Ohio, after the national organization reaffirmed the ban on gay Scouts. "Youngsters should be given a chance to be youngsters in an environment that is safe."

The Winn-Dixie chain of supermarket chains in the southeast gave $49,000 to the Boy Scouts. Winn-Dixie also announced donations to the Scouts in 2011.

Donations to councils that do not discriminate

Some corporate giving went to Boy Scout chapters that do not exclude gays and lesbians.

Best Buy gave to the Northern Star Council of the Boy Scouts, based in St. Paul, Minn., which has publicly stated it does not discriminate based on sexual orientation. Best Buy gave $10,000 to the council during its fiscal year ending Feb. 26, 2011.

Xcel Energy did not have tax documents publicly available for 2010, but did for 2009 and 2011. In 2009, Xcel gave $57,500 to the Scouts -- $25,000 was to the Northern Star Council in Minnesota, which has told the media that it allows gays to serve. In 2011, Xcel gave $82,500 to the Scouts, including $35,000 to the Northern Star.

The Xcel Energy Foundation provided a statement to TAI, which said the company mainly gives to Boy Scout entities that do not discriminate: “The Xcel Energy Foundation has a long history of supporting programs that meet community needs throughout our eight-state service territory, including grants to the Boy Scouts of America. This covers several chapters including the North Star Council, which does not prohibit gay scoutmasters.”

Xcel said it is waiting to see how the Boy Scouts will vote in May on whether to scrap the policy banning gays and lesbians.

“Our scheduled funding cycle for 2013 will not happen until after the May annual meeting of the national Boy Scouts, where it is our understanding there will be a vote to change their policy. If we receive a grant application from the Scouts, we will review their policy then.”

Zach Wahls of Scouts for Equality, who was shown some of TAI's research, praised those companies that did not give to Scouting organizations that discriminate.

"It's clear that the vast majority of Corporate America agrees that the best future for Scouting includes every boy who wishes to live its law and abide its oath," Wahls told TAI. "The Scouters we represent all look forward to the restoration of corporate support when the BSA adopts a full non-discrimination policy and ends their ban on gay youth and parents."

Here's a full list of corporations who donated to the Boy Scouts in 2010:




Gay Marriage In The United States