Tanger makes a point of giving back.
This story first appeared in the December 19, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Since 1994, the developer has raised well over $11 million for a variety of charitable organizations centered around battling breast cancer and helping children and schools succeed.
“Kids and cancer are our two biggest philanthropic areas,” said Carrie Geldner, chief marketing officer.
For the past 19 years, the company has been involved in the fight against breast cancer. Geldner said company founder Stanley Tanger’s wife, Doris, had been diagnosed with breast cancer about three decades ago and when the company was pondering which charities to support, “breast cancer was the first thing that came to mind.”
Every fall, Tanger’s Pink Campaign raises funds that are donated to 20 breast cancer organizations through the Stanley K. Tanger Breast Cancer Fund.
Employees are also encouraged to get involved, and center managers may come up with the best ways for the company to make a difference locally. The company hosts runs and walks in communities throughout the country.
Geldner said in recent years, Tanger has been working with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, an organization founded by the late Evelyn Lauder. BCRF’s mission is to “achieve prevention and a cure for breast cancer in our lifetime by providing critical funding for innovative clinical and translational research…and increasing public awareness about good breast health,” according to its Web site.
Steven Tanger, the current chief executive officer of Tanger Outlet Centers and the son of Stanley and Doris Tanger, “wants to ensure we find a cure in his lifetime,” Geldner said.
But other funds are also earmarked for local communities. “Our managers decide on the best organizations or nonprofits in their area,” she said, noting that it can be a group that provides wigs for those receiving treatment or other support services. “We choose one local recipient at each center each year, and a percentage goes to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation,” Geldner explained.
The other major initiative is children’s education. With this in mind, Tanger assists students in grade levels from pre-school through high school by helping to raise money that is used throughout the school district. The funds can be used to purchase books and supplies, computers and new technology, to fund reading programs and educational field trips, or purchase athletic and playground equipment and other important educational projects.
Through TangerKIDS Grants, schools from pre-K through grade 12 in its primary markets can submit proposals detailing how they will use the funds. Grants range from $2,500 to $7,500 per center and may be split among multiple requests.
Funds used for this program are raised through the sale of coupon books. Geldner said each center sells coupon booklets to customers with discounts from participating retailers in that center. “Consumer buy them for $3 to $5, depending on the center,” she said, “and we sell 500,000 to 800,000 every year. One dollar from every coupon booklet sale goes to support education, and with our 40-some centers, we should get $1 million in donations this year.”
The company also recognizes the emergency services personnel in the communities in which it operates. At the end of each year, Tanger makes financial donations to help purchase life-saving equipment. It also funds community outreach programs and other initiatives designed to support police, fire and emergency medical departments.
Geldner said the recipients are not the same every year but are chosen based on need. For instance, the Tanger center in San Marcos, Tex., is one of the largest, but the town itself is small. “The police found they could patrol on bikes, so Mr. Tanger purchased 50 bikes for them,” she said.
Tanger also bought defibrillators for another town in which it has a mall.
Sometimes, however, Tanger’s contributions are not as visible. Geldner said during Hurricane Sandy, a few employees were personally effected by the storm, losing their homes and their cars. “Steve said to make sure they get what they needed,” and the company made a donation to the individuals.
“That’s kind of the spirit of our culture,” Gelden said. “He feels that it’s a family, and when things happen to one family member, the rest of the family helps.”