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Name: Kate Bauer
Title: Community Engagement Manager, Columbia Gas of Ohio
How has your transition into this role been for you?
It’s been an amazing two years. Getting to know community partners and all the work they’re doing in the community reinforces my belief that Columbus is one of the best places to work, live, and raise a family. Stepping into this role also opened my eyes to the massive amounts of volunteering Columbia Gas of Ohio employees are doing. They’re really dedicated to their community. I have a real passion for this role and the work I do every day just reinforces that it’s the best job for me.
Tell me about your corporate giving strategy - how do you select nonprofit to receive financial support?
As a key component of our corporate giving strategy, we have established Columbia Cares with a focus on supporting nonprofits in four primary areas: safety, economic development, energy education, and hardship assistance (hunger, housing, and social services). When we have a team member that we placed on a board and there is high employee engagement with a nonprofit that aligns with our funding priorities and strategy, we are able to invest more.
How do you select nonprofits on which you place corporate sanctioned board members?
At Columbia Gas of Ohio, we consider board placement an honor. We know that each individual serving in a board role is given special duties to the nonprofit it serves. Our corporate sanctioned board placements align with the four giving areas: safety, economic development, energy education, and hardship assistance (hunger, housing, and social services). I maintain a list of nonprofits that are preferred for executive placement and have internal conversations with our team to understand what the employee is passionate about and committed to helping change in the community. Our goal is to find a nonprofit that aligns with our corporate giving strategies and a leadership team member’s personal areas of interest.
What type of in-kind support do you provide to nonprofits?
The Columbia Cares program mobilizes Columbia Gas/NiSource volunteers to donate time in the community, contributing 5,000 volunteer hours each year, investing nearly $95,000 into the nonprofit community annually as a result of the NiSource Dollars for Doers program. Through the program, the NiSource Foundation is proud to donate $20 per volunteer hour served for up to 25 hours. Employee board service is eligible for these volunteer service hours.
Do you have deadlines for nonprofits to apply for support and what do you ask them to submit for consideration?
We do not have a formal deadline for grant applications and I encourage each nonprofit to connect with me before taking the time to write an application. Our budgets are set in the fall for the next year so it’s important to plan ahead for your future needs. Special event support is also planned for at this time.
How can we learn more?
Our website has an overview of what we support and is always a good place to start.
I am always happy to talk with nonprofits as well. Email is the best way to reach me: kbauer@NiSource.com.