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    The folks at Heineken USA should give themselves a toast in celebration of the more than $500,000 the company has raised in support of local nonprofit organizations and charities since the founding of its “Heineken with a Heart” initiative in late 2007.

    The folks at Heineken USA should give themselves a toast in celebration of the more than $500,000 the company has raised in support of local nonprofit organizations and charities since the founding of its “Heineken with a Heart” initiative in late 2007.

    The alcoholic beverage importer’s national philanthropic initiative was launched in collaboration with its local distributors and their retail accounts to build on a common commitment to giving back to the community, and worthy causes and organizations.

    One example was its inaugural sponsorship of the Tribeca Film Festival, an annual event co-founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff in 2001 following the attacks on the World Trade Center to spur the economic and cultural revitalization of the lower Manhattan district through an annual celebration of film, music and culture.

    “Heineken USA has been involved with a number of film festivals [m] we just inked a three-year sponsorship deal with the Tribeca Film Festival,” says Daniel Tearno, SVP and chief corporate relations officer for White Plains, N.Y.-based Heineken USA. “Since New York is our largest market, and the Tribeca Film Festival is one of the best film festivals, it was a natural fit for us.”

    The sponsorship is a demonstration of how Heineken USA has been trying to add a charitable component to its sponsorships where it makes sense. These local events are just a part of the overall group of Heineken With a Heart events, however. “We’re working with a bunch of national accounts on these as well to enhance the goodwill with these communities and to enhance the financial potential of charities that are relevant to us and relevant to the retailer,” notes Tearno.

    Heineken doesn’t just throw money at the charities; its employees and executives also roll up their sleeves and get involved. While in Orlando, Fla., this past February for its distributor conference, Heineken employees joined with a local wholesaler, Orlando-based Schenck Distributing, to enhance the experience of families visiting the Give Kids The World Village, a nonprofit resort in central Florida that creates once-in-a-lifetime experiences for children with life-threatening illnesses, and their families.

    “We’ve found employee service to be a very effective team-building exercise,” says Tearno. “At the same time, it’s consistent with our ongoing efforts, particularly in communities where we have a presence or a large market presence.”

    The Heineken USA and Schenck Distributing group focused their efforts on behind-the-scenes projects that will help ensure a safe, secure and pristine resort for visiting families to the Give Kids the World Village after the projects are complete.

    “We did about 1,600 hours of volunteer time that one day, both our employees, the whole management team, and about 50 people from our distributor,” recounts Tearno. “We laid about five pallets of sod, some internal building demolition, interior and exterior painting, a lot of cleanup — you name it, we did it. We had a list of projects that were put together by Give Kids the Word Village, and we attacked all of them and finished them faster than was expected. It was hard for the volunteers not to get emotional about it, especially seeing some of the kids there enjoying themselves.”

    Heineken with a Heart is part of HUSA Cares, a larger Heineken USA initiative that seeks to foster a culture of giving back by identifying and activating ways to make a positive difference individually and collectively through volunteering and donations to nonprofits. In addition to Heineken with a Heart, the company also stages days of giving throughout the year, ranging from volunteering at an HIV/AIDS service center and numerous food pantries, to revitalizing nursing homes and local parks.

    “Being an active and responsible member of the communities where our employees live and work, and where our products are enjoyed, is one of the foundational values of our organization,” notes Don Blaustein, president and CEO of Heineken USA. “I am really proud of this grass-roots movement. Not only does it allow us to channel our passions into a worthy cause, it demonstrates the value we place on our people and partners, as well as the causes they care about.”

    Local organizations supported by Heineken events include:

    • American Diabetes Association
    American Red Cross
    Atlanta Urban League
    Freidrich Ataxia Research Alliance (FARA)
    The Food Bank of Westchester
    Great Chicago Food Depository
    Neighbors 4 Neighbors
    Make A Wish Foundation
    Muscular Dystrophy Association
    New Orleans Musicians Clinic
    Raleigh, N.C., Spinal Cord Society
    Society to Prevent Cruelty to Animals of Central Florida
    Telluride Ski Adaptive’s program for injured servicemen and -women
    Tribeca Film Institute

    -- Joseph Tarnowski, Progressive Grocer

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