"We at Alger have been expanding our charitable activities in both participation and donations for about seven years now, trying to focus on giving back to the community," says Dan Chung, CEO of Fred Alger Management, Inc. In continuing that initiative, Alger recently announced its membership in 1% For The Planet, Inc., a nonprofit organization made up of more than 1,000 companies that have agreed to donate 1% of their revenues to a network of environmental organizations worldwide. As a member of the charity, Alger will donate 1% of the management fees it earns from its Alger Green Fund to environmental organizations.
The fund, which is the first mutual fund in the nation to join 1% for The Planet, seeks long-term capital appreciation by investing in companies of any size that conduct their business in an environmentally sustainable manner while demonstrating promising growth potential. The Fund's 86 holdings include companies like Google, Starbucks, Deckers Outdoor Corp., and Cisco Systems Inc. "And so 1% For The Planet just fits in with what our Green Fund is all about," Chung says. "It's an excellent organization that supports a network of environmental organizations that are very diverse and that we believe in strongly, both in terms of the employees and as a company." Launched in 2002, 1% for the Planet's membership has grown from 22 to over 1,000 businesses in six years, and today, those businesses donate to more than 1,600 environmental organizations. These groups include national groups like the American Birding Association, American Hiking Society, and the Wild Dolphin Project, and more local groups like the Austin Cycling Association or the Massachusetts Climate Action Network. International organizations are nonprofit members as well. Chung notes that of the philanthropies his team chooses, a portion of Alger's donation will definitely go to a local charity, in addition to national charities.
Alger has also been involved in a number of other local charities for the past few years. Over this past Thanksgiving weekend, more than 30 employees took about 60 kids--fifth graders from an inner-city school, all underprivileged with some in the gifted program and some in special education programs--to Chelsea Piers in New York City. "The kids got to go rock climbing and play team sports," Chung recalls. "It's a place and an entertainment these kids rarely get to experience." This past holiday season, the Alger charity committee--a group of Alger employees that selects causes the company will contribute to in some way--came up with another way to help underprivileged children. "These kids wrote down what they wanted for Christmas and we put their wishes on our Giving Tree," explains Chung. "And we are giving about 80 gifts to the kids plus 11 bicycles that Alger employees assembled themselves."
Alger employees have also given their time to food drives, blood drives, and as a company, donated money to other charities. However, Chung recalls one charity that's very dear to Alger employees' hearts. "We've been a major corporate sponsor of The Fabretto Children's Foundation, which was brought to us by one of our employees, for years now," Chung says. The charity, based in Nicaragua, supports locals in the poorer villages there with education, nutritional services, and job training, among other things. "The colleague who brought The Fabretto Foundation to Alger worked with them for many years, and after she was lost in the 9/11 attacks, we continued and increased our support for that charity in her honor since it was an effort she was very fond of."
With all that has happened in the markets, and an uncertainty of what is still to come, Chung notes that there's been a lot of talk in the media about people reducing charitable contributions, "but we remain optimistic about the passion and concern that people have for these issues and that this is something that is a long-term benefit to all of us," he says.
In particular, Chung is happy that the Alger Green Fund not only invests in environmentally sound companies, but also uses some of is earning to support a green cause like 1% For The Planet. "I think environmental concerns are not a political issue anymore," he explains. "I think it's a business issue and that having positive environmental practices is just good business."