On the city’s north side, XTO Energy employees have been delivering 108 meals a week for Meals on Wheels of Tarrant County.
For organizations like Meals on Wheels, XTO’s announcement that 1,600 jobs will be shifting to an ExxonMobil campus near Houston immediately raised questions about how those volunteers will be replaced. XTO employees have delivered meals on nine of Meals on Wheels’ 223 routes in Tarrant County.
“We don’t have any other corporate group that delivers that many routes for us,” said Nedra Cutler, Meals on Wheels vice president of volunteer services. “This weekend we were hearing the news and it was like ‘Oh, my goodness.’”
The charitable contributions go far beyond the volunteer work provided by XTO workers.
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The high-profile company has been a major player for United Way, donating $2.6 million in corporate gifts and employee giving since 2010, said TD Smyers, who will take over as president and CEO of United Way of Tarrant County on July 1.
XTO’s donations are significant because the United Way is projecting a $2 million shortfall in its revenue goal of $30.4 million for the 2016-2017 fundraising campaign, which ends June 30. Earlier this month, the nonprofit announced it was eliminating about a third of its staff through layoffs, early retirements and cutting unfilled positions.
Last year, United Way also fell $1.1 million short of its $30.8 million revenue goal.
Smyers acknowledged that the loss of XTO employees will hurt.
“In terms of employee philanthropy, in terms of public philanthropy you’re talking about 1,600 less people,” said Smyers, who is replacing the retiring Tim McKinney. “XTO is a very active company. It leaves a pretty significant hole in both corporate gift giving and employee giving.”
The loss of XTO will be felt in future campaigns, said David Frederick, United Way of Tarrant County’s vice president of marketing and communications.
“We are expecting donations to be down,” Frederick said. “We are still developing what our goals will be for next year.”
‘One of the trophy sponsorships’
In 2016, ExxonMobil and XTO combined to contribute more than $3.9 million to nonprofits in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Employees and retirees donated an additional $2.3 million through the employee giving and company matches while also giving 21,400 hours of their time to DFW nonprofits and charitable groups.
The company has said 350 employees will stay in Fort Worth, and there is hope they will continue to volunteer.
“Our employees are very much involved in the community and we don’t see that culture changing at all,” said XTO spokeswoman Suann Guthrie.
XTO also has been the sponsor of one the city’s highest-profile events, the Parade of Lights in downtown Fort Worth, for the past three years.
Downtown Fort Worth, Inc. President Andy Taft said they have been told XTO will continue its sponsorship for this year’s parade.
What happens following 2017 is not clear. Guthrie said ExxonMobil’s donations are set annually and 2018 spending hasn’t been released yet.
If XTO cuts its local sponsorship dollars next year, Taft said he believes other companies will be lining up for the parade.
“When we’ve had turnover, and we do every three or four years, we haven’t had difficulty finding a sponsor,” Taft said. “It’s one of the trophy sponsorships in Fort Worth. It’s 100,000 people every year.”
‘A generous and gracious partner’
At Tarrant Area Food Bank, XTO employees volunteered 400 times over the past three years and donated nearly $200,000, said spokeswoman Anita Foster.
During the past five years, XTO donated more than $150,000 for engineering and technology programs at Fort Worth’s Paschal and Poly High schools.
“XTO has been a generous and gracious partner to Fort Worth ISD,” said Fort Worth school district spokesman Clint Bond. “They have sponsored our Teaching Chair for Excellence in Early Childhood Education for several years, which includes a $5,000 honorarium to the winning teacher.”
XTO also has been a fixture for the past eight years in Trinity Habitat for Humanity’s “blitz build” of a home in Sundance Square. XTO is one of the top 10 corporate donors for Trinity Habitat in both time and financial donations, officials said.
“Their footprint in our work and impact throughout our city is valued,” said Trinity Habitat’s executive director, Gage Yager. “They have set a beautiful example of what it means to be a strong corporate partner and we are thankful they will still have a presence in Fort Worth.”
Smyers, the United Way CEO, said locally-based companies tend to be more involved in charitable giving than those based elsewhere.
“One of the commonalities of successful United Way campaigns is that they have strong support from corporate leadership — CEOs,” Smyers said. “People live local, give local, love, worship play in these communities. When you have these decisions made elsewhere, you sometimes see that drop off.”