Newman’s Own Celebrates 30 Years Of Giving

May 23, 2012       Patrick Sullivan      

In honor of the 30th anniversary of the founding of Newman’s Own organic food company, the Newman’s Own Foundation, based in Westport, Conn., has announced its intention to donate $30 million to charities in 2012. The initial round of grantmaking, which will total about $10 million, has already begun and will continue on an ongoing basis throughout 2012.

Grants will mainly serve nonprofits in four areas: Nutrition, children with life-limiting conditions, empowerment and the encouragement of philanthropy. Though the majority of grants will go to nonprofits in those categories, Jan Schaefer, director of communications, said the foundation will not limit itself to making grants in only those areas.

“We don’t like to be so absolute because need presents itself in different ways,” she said. “If we evaluate everything equitably, we may find some organizations outside of those areas that are deserving.”

Schaefer said the foundation has recently revised its focus to the four categories mentioned. “We’re trying to focus on those areas because those are the areas we can really make a difference,” she said.

Actor Paul Newman founded the natural food company Newman’s Own in 1982. Since then, 100 percent of the after-tax profits and royalties have gone to charity, totaling about $350 million since the company’s inception. The foundation was formed in 2005. All of the funding for the foundation comes from the Newman’s Own company, according to Schaefer.

“Our ability to give is a direct result of the food company,” she said. “When they grow, our ability to give also grows.”

The $30 million the Newman’s Own Foundation intends to distribute in 2012 represents the largest total dollar amount of grants given since the founding of Newman’s Own in 1982. The previously highest total, about $27.5 million, was distributed last year.

“(The total amount has) been growing every year,” said Schaefer.

The Newman’s Own Foundation gave grants to more than 750 organizations last year, and Schaefer expects this year’s total to be about the same. Grants are by invitation only; the foundation does not normally accept unsolicited proposals, but rather gets recommendations from a variety of sources, such as board members and other grantees.

“We’re very grateful to carry on the legacy of Paul Newman,” said Schaefer. Newman passed away in 2008. “His model at the time was very unique, and now you see a lot of social enterprises. We’re also grateful to the organizations we support. They’re the ones on the ground and they make a difference every day.”