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Microsoft Corporation (MSFT), Intel Corporation (INTC) & Five Leading Companies in Philanthropy

Like most investors, you probably aim for the best possible return when picking potential investments. But as consumers increasingly clamor for companies to embrace social responsibility, good corporate citizenship is becoming a vital part of many companies’ success. And it can boost the performance of our portfolios, too.

Microsoft Corporation (MSFT)CR magazine recently released its “100 Best Corporate Citizens” list for 2013, in which it rated members of the Russell 1000 large-cap index on 325 different elements related to responsible behavior. In the coming weeks, I’ll delve into each of the seven categories that contribute to a company’s overall score.

Today, we’ll look at the philanthropy category, which gets a 9% weighting. Here are the top-rated companies:

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)

Albemarle Corporation (NYSE:ALB)

Weyerhaeuser Company (NYSE:WY)

FedEx Corporation (NYSE:FDX)

Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC)

To earn their high scores, the companies above engaged in a variety of good practices such as paying employees for some of their volunteering time, loaning talent, and permitting the use of facilities. Each company’s total annual giving was also considered.

Digging deeper
So what, exactly, are these companies doing right? Here are a few examples of their philanthropic practices:

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) founder Bill Gates is well known for his massive giving, but the company is no slouch, either. In the past 30 years, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) employees have contributed $1 billion to tens of thousands of nonprofits. Add together the company’s donations of cash, software, and services, and the total exceeds $6.5 billion. Some 65% of employees participate in the company’s giving program, and since 2005, they’ve volunteered more than 2 million hours. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) matches eligible employee donations to charities each year up to $12,000.

Albemarle Corporation (NYSE:ALB), a Louisiana-based specialty chemical company, has established a foundation that has contributed more than $14 million to nonprofits in the communities where its employees work and live. Its efforts have supported Habitat for Humanity, food banks, medical services, and much more. It’s expanding its scope internationally, too, via disaster relief.

Weyerhaeuser Company (NYSE:WY), the forest-products giant, has contributed more than $215 million in the past 64 years, through its company foundation and its Weyerhaeuser Company (NYSE:WY) Giving Fund. Like Albemarle Corporation (NYSE:ALB), it does much of its giving in its company locations. It encourages philanthropy among its workers, and in 2011, 1,364 employees volunteered more than 21,000 hours. When company locations suffer disasters and the areas are declared official disaster zones, the company offers employees up to two weeks of paid time off (per year) to offer assistance.

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