MGM Resorts Foundation puts money where mission is Stephanie Annis, Las Vegas Review-Journal · November 17, 2014 at 6:25 am MGM Resorts International is one of Las Vegas’ largest and most high-profile businesses. And, with annual donations surpassing $11 million, so is the MGM Resorts Foundation, its 501(c)3 nonprofit arm. Between its inception in 2002 and the end of 2013, MGM Resorts Foundation has distributed more than $54 million. Not too long ago, corporate philanthropy was a little discussed area of business, a sort of social responsibility that was handled far from the media spotlight. Today, corporate philanthropy is celebrated and acknowledged as much for the boost it gives communities as for the boost it provides in attracting investors and achieving transparency for both stockholders and the public. “Philanthropy is part of our social responsibility initiative which is something we do because it’s the right thing to do but also we recognize there (are)business benefits,” said Rey Bouknight, corporate communications director. He pointed to MGM Resorts’ support of the National Center for Responsible Gaming as an example of a nonprofit whose mission is in line with the casino company’s business and important to its corporate philanthropy. MGM Resorts increased the profile of its nonprofit endeavors in June 2013 when it named Shelley Gitomer as its first vice president of philanthropy and corporate engagement. She brings 35 years of experience in philanthropy and fundraising, including 10 at the Nevada Cancer Institute. At the heart of the foundation’s efforts are the donations of time and money by MGM Resorts employees. Those contributions have reached more than 1,400 different organizations through the Employee Giving Program. In 2013, employee contributions surpassed $5 million and that money was distributed as grants. MGM Resorts provided an additional $6 million, divided among grants and in-kind donations. Gitomer said she accelerated the effort to develop MGM’s corporate philanthropy with more executives dedicated to philanthropy than in previous years. “Even through the recession, the corporation gave back to the community and that’s when they needed it the most,” Gitomer said. Now, with more hands on deck, MGM is raising the bar. Corporate giving areas of focus include “diversity initiatives, public education, and basic human needs,” Gitmer said. Around 50 percent of employees donate money, time, or both, she said. The foundation provides the infrastructure for the Employee Giving Program, so that every dollar employees donate will go to the charity of the employee’s choice. Sherry Maatta, assistant director of attractions at Circus Circus, serves on the MGM Resorts Foundation’s grants committee. She directs about 300 employees yet finds time to volunteer weekly, logging more than 200 hours in this year’s first nine months. “I believe in leading by example,” she said. Topping the list of community needs to be addressed are hunger relief, housing and community development. Food drives are one way everyone at MGM Resorts contributes. In 2013, MGM employees were recognized for collecting 921,000 pounds of food for Three Square, a Las Vegas food bank. Matthew Muldoon, a Three Square representative, said MGM Resorts has been a long-term partner. Because of help from MGM Resorts’ efforts, Three Square now “has a volunteer room with their (MGM Resorts’) name on it,” he said. Food is brought into the volunteer room, where it is sorted and organized for redistribution. Muldoon said MGM Resorts employees’ efforts have “expanded into contributions from individual employees. They donate countless number of hours… that helps maintain our efficiency.” Volunteers’ work lets Three Square operate with a 7 percent overhead, meaning 93 cents of each dollar goes toward feeding people. On Nov. 24, MGM Resorts will hold a program at Three Square to announce this year’s total food donation which is “record-breaking,” officials say. High-level executives and property presidents are expected to attend. Meanwhile, MGM Resorts is showing its support for the military by donating $250,000 to the Nevada Military Support Alliance and its drive to create the first Fisher Home in Nevada. The Fisher House supports military families by giving them a place to stay and be close to their military personnel relatives who are recovering from injury in a hospital. The project’s projected cost is approximately $1 million.