Jodi Nolte, Strategic Philanthropy Consultant, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance
In 2012, Northwestern Mutual chose to create a stronger and more visible presence for Northwestern Mutual’s charitable giving on a national scale via the Northwestern Mutual Foundation. By strategically focusing its philanthropic efforts on one cause, and employing the principles of cause branding, the Northwestern Mutual Foundation has proven Northwestern Mutual’s commitment to corporate social responsibility and elevated the company’s reputation with policyowners and consumers. The Northwestern Mutual Foundation used a methodical approach to evaluate social causes and select the one on which it would ultimately focus its national efforts. The process included evaluating social causes against specific criteria and examining competitor’s philanthropic efforts. Upon completing a thorough analysis, Northwestern Mutual selected childhood cancer on which to focus its philanthropic efforts. Once childhood cancer was selected, the Northwestern Mutual Foundation defined the vision, mission, and objectives of the program, as well as partners and specific activations to implement the program across its home office and field financial network. The Childhood Cancer Program focuses on research, family support, and survivorship to achieve its mission, and the Foundation works with high-impact, best-in-class nonprofits that work to achieve substantial, sustained results, and create larger systemic change. As a result of Northwestern Mutual’s Childhood Cancer Program, preliminary research data has been developed, numerous articles have been published, and several clinical trials have been advanced. Northwestern Mutual’s brand has been enhanced, and it has a more positive corporate reputation.