When it comes to retail organizations that lead where they live, Lowe’s sets the bar high. In the past, they've had a strong reputation for being a great organization for applying to when seeking donations of materials for charitable or other community-boosting builds. Unfortunately, after 70 years of having an open application process, times have changed, and Lowe’s donation request program has ended.
As of spring 2020, you can't get a material donation from Lowe's unless your local store manager has a budget for community donations.
For decades, Lowe’s Gives Foundation made it a priority to contribute to the community and give back by awarding community grants for $5,000 to $25,000. They favored projects that focused on community improvement and public education with a priority given to K-12 public schools. The grants were only considered for non-product organizations or public agencies that were 501(c) (3) tax-exempt. An eligibility test was also needed to be taken and passed.
Your local store may still be willing to donate gift cards, small amounts of building materials or door prizes, but that will be on a store-by-store basis and you’ll need to speak with the manager to see if your cause may be eligible.
With the shifting economic sands of 2020, Lowe’s made changes to their program. The reality is that the opportunity to help and give back was omnipresent, and Lowe’s had no shortage of initiatives they could take. Plus, with 70 years of creating relationships with organizations, Lowe’s has seen what companies have done with the generosity previously provided to them, and Lowe’s is keen to leverage those relationships going forward.
While communities faced unprecedented public health emergencies in 2020, Lowe’s reoriented their community work to support frontline workers. When fatal tornadoes blew threw Tennessee, Lowe’s didn’t wait for Nashville to ask for help, they reached out to be an early responder in the efforts to rebuild. Instead of having people apply for grants, their teams seek for ways big and small to give back in the community around them, from building personal safety shields to making donations to first responders in Louisiana.
For organizations that have worked with Lowe’s in the past, there may be a belief that such help will be automatic in the future, but Lowe’s has a strategic plan for staying involved and says they will communicate with groups they'd like to continue helping.
Another big-box store, Home Depot does, in theory, contribute to smaller projects through its Community Impact Grants Program, but the public health emergency in 2020 saw Home Depot suspending this program as of March 17, 2020, for an indefinite period. Their page explaining the approvals process remains up, and the intention is to bring the program back at a later time, but their priority has been to assist in the public health emergency as long as it continues.
However, their Veteran Housing Grants Program continues operation and allows for grants between $100,000 and $500,000 for qualifying projects that serve large cities with a population of 300,000 or greater. They do have a strict list of requirements and compliances for those who are to be successful in their application, and it’s easily accessible on their website.
Corporations have to go with the flow as the economy grows and shrinks. When adversity is more omnipresent, it makes sense to take the initiative to find projects rather than get deluded by an increasingly struggling public looking for help in all kinds of places.
But tides rise and fall and these charitable programs will change as the economy shifts too, so check back and always visit your local store in case they’ve got a local community budget.