One Month Later: How The Auto Industry Has Helped Haiti

February 12, 2010
GM representatives with GMC Sierras and supplies bound for Haiti

GM representatives with GMC Sierras and supplies bound for Haiti

Maggie Gyllenhaal

Maggie Gyllenhaal

Exactly one month ago, on January 12, an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter Scale devastated the city of Port au Prince and other parts of Haiti, resulting in at least 212,000 deaths. Almost immediately, support began pouring in from individuals, governments, and corporations around the globe -- including the auto industry.

We were curious about the total amount of contributions that the industry has provided to Haiti's relief efforts, so we reached out to automakers for their latest figures. We're happy to report that as of today, the six companies listed below have contributed at least $1,100,000 in cash and over $2,011,000 in kind (via auction items, work trucks, and so on). Most of these companies also have matching plans, which match employee contributions to charitable causes, dollar-for-dollar, up to a certain amount, so the amount of cash contributed to the relief efforts will likely continue to grow.

Of course, some of you are probably wondering why a consumer-oriented site like TCC would report non-car news like this. We'd respond that, apart from the earthquake being one of the gravest natural disasters in recent years, many of today's buyers like to know whether companies are good corporate citizens. Do they offer support to nonprofits in their area? To education? The homeless? The arts? Do they give back to the communities that keep them in business? At one time or another, most of us have made purchasing decisions based on a company's actions. (Remember Exxon's slide after the Valdez incident?) We think data like this makes for informed consumers -- and that, like Martha says, is a good thing.

Please note: Audi, BMW, Ford [updated below], Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, and Volvo didn't respond to our requests for information. While that might be because they didn't have any data to share with us, we prefer to think that our emails got lost in their inboxes, and that the total figure for contributions is even higher than we've listed here. We'll post updates if and when we receive them.

* * * * *

Chrysler: $100,000 cash / in-kind TBA

Chrysler has pledged both cash and in-kind support to the relief efforts in Haiti. The nonprofit Chrysler Foundation contributed $100,000, with $50,000 going to Oxfam America and another $50,000 to the United States Fund for UNICEF. As for the company itself, Chrysler teamed with Stars for a Cause and contributed a Chrysler 300, which was autographed by over 300 celebrities at the recent Golden Globes awards (now including Oprah Winfrey!).The vehicle will be auctioned next Saturday, February 20, by Leake Car Auction in Oklahoma City, with proceeds going to the American Red Cross. Chrysler has also sponsored other fundraising events:

  • In Puerto Rico, Chrysler Group LLC dealerships established on-site collection centers where residents may donate household and non-perishable food items.
  • In celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, the Company organized a series of volunteer activities for employees in the Detroit and Toledo regions. In addition to benefiting the local communities where Chrysler Group facilities are located, the Martin Luther King, Jr. service project conducted at Michigan-based World Medical Relief on Wednesday, Jan. 20, benefited Haitian relief efforts by providing donated medical supplies.

Ford: $50,000 in cash / $36,000+ in-kind

According to a Ford representative: "Ford Fund and Community Services has donated $286,000 to the Red Cross through an employee donation match program and donated two Ford Rangers to assist with relief efforts." Here's how that $286,000 breaks down, by our math: the two trucks have an approximate value of $36,000, so the remaining $250,000 came through Ford's matching gift program. That program matches employee contributions dollar-for-dollar, but it has a cap of $50,000, meaning that $200,000 of the $250,000 came from individual Ford workers. That speaks volumes about the generosity of Ford staff, but since the $200,000 came from employees and not the company, we've left it out of Ford's total.  The representative added: "Our dealers in Puerto Rico and around the country are also still collecting donations, so we don't have a total for that yet."

General Motors: $100,000 cash / $850,000+ in-kind

A couple of weeks ago, we mentioned that General Motors' nonprofit GM Foundation had donated 30 GMC Sierra trucks to the relief efforts in Haiti. The company's South Florida Buick-GMC Dealers donated and collected much needed tarps and tents to pack those truck beds before they set off from Miami. The Foundation has also contributed a total of $100,000 in cash, and an additional $250,000 was raised on Saturday, January 23, by the auction of a limited-edition 2008 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 at the 39th annual Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction. The company's fundraising efforts are ongoing, with additional donations being collected at U.S. auto shows.

Honda: $330,000 cash/in-kind

On January 19, Honda announced a gift of over $300,000 to the Red Cross, which was earmarked for the relief efforts in Haiti. The company also made in-kind contributions of Honda generators, water pumps, and other products to aid in the recovery efforts. Combined with company funds contributed to Honda's matching gift program, Honda estimates its total cash and in-kind contribution to be in excess of $330,000.

Mazda: None

According to a company representative, Mazda has not yet made a corporate contribution to earthquake relief efforts in Haiti.

Penske: $1,000,000 in-kind

Penske may not be an automaker, but it's not for lack of trying. And besides, the company's in-kind contribution of over $1,000,000 worth of diesel-powered trucks to the relief efforts is definitely worthy of praise from car buyers.

Toyota: $600,000 cash / $125,000+ in-kind

To date, Toyota seems to have made the largest contribution to the relief efforts -- at least in terms of its cash donations. On January 15, three days after the disaster, the company announced a gift of $500,000, divided evenly between the American Red Cross, Save the Children, and Doctors Without Borders. Toyota Financial Services also donated five Toyota Tundras to the cause, and the company's two private U.S. distributors, South East Toyota and Gulf States Toyota, also donated up to $100,000 each to the relief efforts.

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