Target to continue giving 5% of profits to charity

  • Article by: MARY ABBE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 30, 2009 - 8:24 PM

The Minneapolis-based retail giant says layoffs, recession won't keep it from donating to arts, education and social services nonprofits.

Target Corp. intends to continue giving 5 percent of its pre-tax profits to charity despite the economic downturn that prompted it to cut 1,000 workers on Tuesday and to announce the closure later this year of an Arkansas distribution center.

"We remain committed to supporting the communities where we operate, including [donating] 5 percent of our income to nonprofit organizations that support the arts, education and social services," said Lena Michaud, a Target spokesperson, in an e-mail response to a query.

Last year the Minneapolis-based retailer gave $169 million nationally in cash and in-kind contributions, making it, by some reckonings, Minnesota's most generous grant maker. For the past five years its largess has significantly outpaced that of the McKnight Foundation, Minnesota's No. 2 donor, according to the Minnesota Council on Foundations. Between 2004 and 2008, Target's annual giving rose steadily, from $96.3 million to $169 million, while the McKnight Foundation's went from $75.4 million to $93.6 million.

McKnight makes all of its contributions in cash, however, while Target distributes a mix of money, advertising and marketing advice linked to its own brand recognition. Since 2006 the Council on Foundations has ranked its "Top 50 Minnesota Grantmakers" only on cash contributions. That put McKnight on top and relegated Target to a footnote since it does not separate its monetary and in-kind donations.

Arts organizations around the country are particularly dependent on Target for providing free or reduced admission to museums, theatrical performances and events. Its beneficiaries in the Twin Cities include Walker Art Center, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Children's Theatre Company, Guthrie Theater, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Minnesota Children's Museum, Circus Juventas, Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre and the Latin American Folklore Dance Company.

Target dismissed 600 employees from its Twin Cities headquarters this week and said it will not fill 400 open positions. The cuts are the largest layoff in the company's history, representing about 9 percent of its 11,000 Minneapolis employees, most from the central office on Nicollet Mall. Another 500 people will lose their jobs when the Arkansas facility closes.

Mary Abbe • 612-673-4431

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