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UPS at 104: Celebrating the Legacy and Philanthropy of Jim Casey
Jim Casey with UPS sign in Seattle, 1952

With the 104th anniversary of UPS just around the corner (Aug. 28), I’ve been thinking about our founder, Jim Casey.  Jim taught us a lot.  His speeches and writings in the 1930s, 40s and 50s would make a best-selling business book if repackaged today.  Thomas Friedman…  Jim Collins…  Gary Hammel… all the other business gurus of today – Jim had them all beat more than half-a-century ago.

But Jim taught us more than just good business.  He taught us about philanthropy, and about giving back to the community

Jim always wanted to be involved in the community, not just a passive funder.  The Annie E. Casey Foundation is a great example.  Founded by Jim and financed entirely by Jim’s personal fortune, it’s a hands-on, community-based organization that reaches out, gets involved and changes the lives of thousands of at-risk kids every year.  That’s how Jim wanted it.

And when he formed The UPS Foundation 60 years ago, I believe Jim knew that the company had a unique view of the communities we serve and that we could make a difference by being involved. UPS isn’t a company with products sitting on shelves, or stores or manufacturing plants in selected cities. We’re a company of people, serving other people, face-to-face in every community in the country, every day. If there is a stop light in America, the chances are that a UPS driver will pass under it today, and that same ubiquity is quietly spreading around the world.

And we do get involved. Last year, our employees and their families globally logged nearly 1.3 million hours of volunteer time in our volunteer management system. It’s a remarkable achievement that few companies come close to.

The trend in corporate volunteerism is to increase the impact and quality of the hours that are donated.  Applying the unique skills of an organization to community challenges can have a much greater impact than just painting benches or raking leaves (although physical labor is still critical to volunteerism).  For UPS, this has meant dedicating our logistics and transportation skills to compelling issue like disaster relief.

In Haiti, Japan, the Horn of Africa and elsewhere, combining our logistics expertise, our transportation assets and our philanthropic dollars has helped make relief agencies more effective and ultimately save more lives.

Our founder Jim Casey may not have imagined the breadth of capabilities and scope of operations of today’s UPS… but he certainly would have expected that UPS people would be dedicating their time and talents to help build stronger communities wherever UPS operates.  He’d be proud of the legacy he helped to inspire.

Category: Business Insights, Caring for Communities
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