Representing 1% of the airline’s 2015 net income, Delta’s projected gifts will focus on education, arts and culture, global wellness, diversity, veterans and environmental causes and include cash contributions, in-kind travel and grants from the Delta Air Lines Foundation.
Beginning in July, an additional $5 million will be dedicated to match employee gifts to accredited, non-profit education institutions, according to a Feb. 26 letter to all employees from CEO Ed Bastian.
“Many people are drawn to Delta not just because of the service that you [employees] provide in our airports or on our airplanes, but in the way you represent our brand by donating your time, talents and resources to a variety of worthwhile causes,” his letter said. “Whether donating blood to the American Red Cross, building homes with Habitat for Humanity International, constructing a playground with KaBOOM!, educating students through Junior Achievement or building bikes for Marine Toys for Tots, it's clear that Delta people are committed to volunteering their time to give back. Delta is committed to supporting them with the resources they need to continue to make a difference.”
Bastian called the program “our version of profit sharing for our community.” Many large corporations have similar match programs and specific areas of emphasis for its corporate social responsibility, primarily designed to increase brand recognition and attract new customers.
The move may not bring in higher revenue for the airline, said Henry H. Harteveldt, travel industry analyst and founder of Atmosphere Research Group. Airline choice is based more on route networks, schedules, fares and loyalty programs.
“Where this may be helpful is in winning over travelers to Delta when the fundamentals are similar, especially if Delta properly promotes the program to travelers,” Harteveldt said. “Travelers age 18 to 34 are more likely to look beyond the basics of a travel brand and consider factors such as its corporate social responsibility efforts.”
Corporate accounts with a large number of employees under 35 who travel for business also may see Delta’s CSR program in line with its own corporate values and select the airline for business travel, he said.