Walmart Foundation: A “Lever” For The Company, But Not Enough To Pry Open New York

Walmart gives away millions and millions of dollars a year through the company’s Walmart Foundation. Its motivations aren’t purely philanthropic: As outgoing EVP Leslie Dach told investors in 2010, philanthropy bolsters Walmart’s reputation, and the company then seeks to use that reputation as “a lever” in achieving company goals, such as opening stores in new markets.

When Sylvia Mathews Burwell’s name surfaced as a possible Obama administration nominee back in February, The Nation found how, with Burwell at the helm, the Walmart Foundation “has donated considerable cash to groups that have gone on the record to support Walmart during its most contentious political disputes, including the ongoing effort to open stores in New York City. The foundation also donates directly to municipalities, funds groups tied to powerful elected officials and instructs grantees to publicize Walmart’s generosity.”

The company has given millions of dollars in New York City, which has no Walmart stores and has long been a target for expansion, but apparently the money lever wasn’t strong enough there: According to the New York Times, after failing to open a store in Brooklyn, the company has “all but packed it up and left” the city, ending contracts with its New York-based lobbyists and consultants.

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