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Community Engagement

Management Approach

Direct economic value generated and distributed


Being a connected contributor in the community is a tradition and point of pride at RAI and its subsidiaries, where a legacy of community support dates back to the late 1800s. RAI’s companies are guided by the principle that our success is tied to the communities where we live, work and actively participate as involved neighbors.

Throughout his life, Richard Joshua Reynolds provided funding and encouragement to help build schools, hospitals and housing to improve quality of life in the growing town of Winston-Salem. Further, he instilled a calling to give back to the community into the core culture of the company he founded 142 years ago.

“In growth, development and improvement of the state and his city, Mr. Reynolds has always taken the deepest interest, and is ever ready to assist with counsel, advice, time and money. Many educational, charitable and philanthropic institutions have had cause to rejoice in the interest and generosity of this successful man.”
– Twin City Sentinel newspaper, July 29, 1918

RAI’s companies and their employees generously invest time, talent and money to help improve lives and communities where we live and work. Our companies and employees find great value in building strong community connections through philanthropic giving, employee-directed giving and volunteer participation. 

Giving back to our communities is not just the right thing to do, it also fosters an attractive environment for recruiting and retaining a high-performing talent base. By providing opportunities for employees to engage with nonprofit organizations, RAI’s employees build personal community connections and experience professional development while helping their neighbors. For example, serving on a nonprofit board of directors offers training in areas such as financial and organizational management that can directly benefit an employee’s professional development. 

Our community outreach efforts are an important part of our sustainable business practices and our commitment to being a positive, connected contributor in the community. To this end, RAI and its subsidiaries' total giving programs are defined by four components:

  • Foundations: Three independent foundations created, staffed and funded by our operating companies, support education, arts and social programs that strengthen our local communities.
  • Corporate giving: RAI and its subsidiaries make monetary contributions and non-cash donations, such as land and buildings, to support nonprofits and economic development efforts in the communities in which we operate.
  • Employee-directed giving: Employees can direct foundation and corporate funds through a variety of mechanisms. For example, the Reynolds American Foundation matches employee gifts to nonprofit organizations and institutions of higher learning up to $7,000 per employee per year.
  • Employee volunteerism: Employees are encouraged to give of their time by utilizing paid time off to volunteer in schools and to participate annually with colleagues in United Ways Days of Caring.

2016 Giving at a Glance

Our companies, along with their foundations and employees, donated approximately $15 million in cash to a wide range of nonprofit organizations in 2016. Employees gave $2.1 million of their own money to nonprofit and educational organizations, including nearly $1.15 million to the United Way and employee gifts of $974,000, which were matched one-for-one by the Reynolds American Foundation. Also in 2016, the Reynolds American Foundation created employee sub-committees around each of its priority giving areas to provide additional opportunities for employee involvement in community engagement.

Donations by Funding Source

Employee Matching–Grant Giving Information

Participating Employees592689826
Charitable Organizations505512632
Dollars Matched$577,000$714,000$974,000

Goals & Leadership

RAI and its subsidiaries invest in improving the communities where our employees live and work. Through both philanthropy and volunteerism, our companies and employees continually give back to our communities.

RAI’s total giving programs are led by the director of community engagement programs, who also serves as the executive director of the Reynolds American Foundation. The American Snuff Company Charitable Trust and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company Foundation are independently managed by their individual boards of directors, which include employees of RAI and its subsidiaries. The executive vice president of public affairs for RAI has executive oversight of the giving strategy and reports progress to the RAI leadership team and the Board.

In 2016, we began a transformation in RAI’s total giving strategy, beginning with the hiring of Mamie Sutphin as the new director of community engagement programs. RAI also developed a new multi-year strategic plan to improve employee engagement in community outreach. We will measure our success in community engagement through progress toward the following goals: 

  • Increase awareness of RAI total giving programs by 25% among employees over 24 months (once a baseline is established);
  • Increase understanding among key community leaders of RAI total giving programs and specifically Reynolds American Foundation and corporate funding priorities, as evidenced through recommendations and requests for funds, over 24 months;
  • Maintain high levels of employee participation at company-sponsored events;
  • Increase both the numbers of employees participating in the Reynolds American Foundation matching grants program and the total dollar amount of grants matched by 10 percent year over year; and
  • Improve opportunities for employees to engage with community organizations, such as serving in board positions and participating in volunteer activities.

To begin effective planning and execution toward these goals, in 2016 we focused on foundational aspects, such as structure and process of how funding decisions are made; tracking activities and funding requests across RAI total giving programs (donations, sponsorships, etc.); and working with internal and external partners to improve collaboration and engagement in the community. Key accomplishments for 2016 include: 

  • Implementing a cross-functional “Employee Engagement” team with representatives from communications and human resources that meets monthly to review opportunities for employees to participate in corporate sponsorships, volunteer activities, and other important issues;
  • Establishing Reynolds American Foundation employee sub-committees;
  • Partnering with the Human Resources Talent Development Team, to identify and match eight employees with non-profits to serve on their boards of directors;
  • Increasing the number of employees participating in the Reynolds American Foundation matching grant program in 2016 by 20 percent from the prior year, and the total amount of matching grants awarded by 36 percent from prior year;
  • Enhancing internal communications of foundation giving with quarterly updates to include list of all funded partners from all three foundations each quarter; and
  • Significantly increasing social media outreach specific to community and philanthropic activities.

As a result of these accomplishments, among many others, the Foundation's efforts were recognized by several organizations for leadership and philanthropic generosity, including Samaritan Ministries' Good Samaritan Award, American Red Cross Annual Disaster Giving Program Partner and United Way Women’s Leadership Council Outstanding Corporate Chapter.

In 2017, RAI and its subsidiaries will continue efforts to increase employee engagement in their communities by providing more tools and communications to better organize company and individual efforts. RAI will implement a new web-based system, which enables better tracking of employee volunteer commitments, matching grants and special campaigns. While employees are already heavily engaged in the communities in which we operate, we wish to amplify and communicate their efforts.

“It is so exciting to work at RAI and be part of our companies’ commitment to positively impact our community. After years of working in Winston-Salem, I’ve learned quite a bit about the legacy of generosity and community leadership that RAI and its companies’ employees built in the communities where they operate. It is an honor to now be part of this organization and to carry forward the tradition of giving back to our communities.”
– Mamie Sutphin, Reynolds American director of community engagement programs and executive director of the Reynolds American Foundation

Programs & Priorities

Our community outreach efforts are an important part of our sustainable business practices and our commitment to being a positive, connected contributor in the community. Therefore, our giving strategy aligns with our business strategy and the needs of our local communities.

Foundation Giving

Corporate Giving

Employee Giving

Giving Priorities