Vanessa Van Atta, Manager of Community Relations and Philanthropy, Alliance Data

1.    You’ve been in your role at Alliance Data for four years now, but your background is in the nonprofit world. Tell me what you have learned in your past positions that’s helping you today. 

Because of my background in the nonprofit field, I think I value our relationship with our nonprofits more. I understand the nuances of the nonprofit world and can find a good balance of corporate needs and nonprofit realities.

I also know the amount of work that goes into nonprofit jobs every day, and I think it helps me to have supportive conversations both internally and externally.

For our nonprofit partnerships, I try to start with open conversations so we can brainstorm and gain alignment on synergies. Often it allows us to provide more support than what they originally were asking for while also limiting unnecessary paperwork. I’ve found that having open conversations leads to deeper relationships.

 

2.   I think sometimes Alliance Data is mysterious to people. Tell us more about what your company does.

Based in Columbus, Ohio and led by EVP and President Melisa Miller, Alliance Data’s card services business develops market-leading private label, co-brand, and business credit card programs for many of the world's most recognizable brands. Through our deliberately different and measurably superior approach, we give our partners deep, actionable insights about their customers that drive unmatched results and lasting loyalty.

Our commitment to innovation and cutting-edge capabilities also ensures an exceptional customer experience, helping our partners increase sales and provide greater value to their customers. Our family of associates is driven to grow together, and we are proud to be part of the Alliance Data enterprise (NYSE: ADS), an S&P 500, FORTUNE 500 and FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For company headquartered in Plano, Texas.

Well-known clients include DSW, ULTA Beauty, Wayfair, Lane Bryant, Meijer, Pier 1 Imports, The Children’s Place, Pottery Barn, Toyota and more. 

 

3.   How do you support nonprofits across your footprint?

I administer the charitable giving and volunteerism for all of our card services business. This includes 13 offices in the United States and a customer care center we just opened in Bangalore, India.

These 14 offices employ 9,000 associates, half of which are based in Columbus.

I partner closely with site leaders in these locations because they have a better idea of what local partnerships they would like to pursue. I help them understand our expectations of nonprofit partners and what we are looking to achieve. Together we work to identify the best nonprofits in each market for us.

 

4.  Can you share more about your new focus on helping nonprofits with their own data? 

It’s called Data for Good. We know how much utilizing data can grow our clients’ businesses and if our nonprofits have rich data and know how to use it, their potential increases exponentially. We know nonprofits don’t always have the resources to get there and grow the way we know they can.

A good example of this is our partnership with Nationwide Children’s Hospital. A team of our experts spent nine months helping them with donor segmentation modeling so they can better target their donors. They were able to take what they learned from Alliance Data staff and integrate a new process to be more effective. Our teams continue to stay connected and provide additional help and support as needed.

 

5.   What other types of charitable support do you provide nonprofits?

We do an open giving campaign each year where associates support causes about which they are passionate through workplace giving. Last year Alliance Data and our associates gave $3.8 million back to our communities through this campaign.

In addition to matching these associate gifts, we give back in the three core areas - children, education and hunger. This year we are also looking to do more in early childhood education. Here is a little more about each area we support:

1.     Children – we focus on basic needs including health, safety and well-being. An example of this is the $400,000 donation we provided Nationwide Children’s Hospital for data architecture that links all pediatric and research data sources. We are also proud to partner with Directions for Youth and Families and their afterschool programming along with the Community Shelter Board, helping get homeless families rehoused quickly at the VanBuren shelter.

2.   Education – our goal is improved educational outcomes for underserved youth. Here we work with great partners like the Columbus Early Learning Center and also City Year to support their work at Mifflin High School, which is near our Easton home office.

3.   Hunger – we provide access to healthy food and long-term solutions to fight food insecurity. Throughout our offices we partner with foodbanks in all communities where we have associates. Locally we support Lutheran Social Services and its pantry system.

Along with these three focus areas, Alliance Data also has national partnerships to be more efficient. An example of this is Habitat for Humanity where we can invest both locally and nationally.

6.  Do you have deadlines annually for applications?

We discuss applications each month. I review all submissions and make recommendations to Jami Dewolf, our SVP and Chief Marketing Officer.

7.   How are your volunteers and nonprofit board members placed?

When we invest in a nonprofit our expectation is that we will support them beyond just financial donations. In addition to our financial support, we leverage the expertise of our associates via Team Alliance Data.

Team Alliance Data provides ways for our associates to get involved in the community via general volunteerism, board service, committee work, and skills-based volunteerism.

I serve as the conduit between our associates and the community to make sure they are connected to organizations about which they are passionate. I work with the nonprofits to see what skills they need in board roles and serve as a matchmaker for these board positions – providing introductions and working until I find the right fit.

8.   Where can a nonprofit partner go to learn more? 

Our website is a good place to learn more (www.knowmoresellmore.com) and if an organization is interested in applying for funding please email us at GiveBack@alliancedata.com.