Member Spotlight: Sara Vaz

Each month we highlight our members and showcase how their work supports our new strategic framework.

The Nordson Corporation Foundation operates on the belief that business, as a corporate citizen, has a social responsibility to share its success with the communities where it operates and draws employees. Since 1989, the Foundation has awarded over $50 million in grants.

  1. When did you become engaged in philanthropy and corporate giving?
    I first started working in philanthropy in 2010 with the Gary and Mary West Foundation. Previous to working on the giving side, I worked mostly in the nonprofit world running programs and fundraising. I joined Nordson in 2015 and have found corporate philanthropy to be very similar to private family philanthropy but also very different.
  2. How does Nordson choose causes to give to?
    Nordson believes strongly that in order to be a successful company we must give back to the communities in which we work and live. We consolidate most of our philanthropic resources around improving the quality of life in our communities by improving educational outcomes that enable individuals to become self-sufficient, active participants in the community. We also recognize that our employees have varied interests in their communities so we allocate a portion of our funding to support Human Welfare, Arts & Culture, and Civic Engagement. We engage our employees in the decision making on where to allocate our funds in their local communities. Employees sit on Community Affairs Committees in each of our larger locations to help guide our funding decisions.
  3. What are some of the biggest challenges in corporate giving?
    We are very fortunate at Nordson that corporate giving goes back to the founding of our company and is a huge part of our corporate culture. Our executives are very engaged in our giving strategies and believe strongly that carrying on the tradition of investing in our communities is key to our success. Our biggest challenge at Nordson is communicating internally with our employees so they are all aware of all of the programs we offer under our Nordson Community Engagement Program. We are also growing quite rapidly through acquisition and need to make sure that our corporate values and culture remain strong as we expand.
  4. What trends are you seeing in the field?
    I see companies expanding their efforts in the corporate giving arena as younger workers enter the workforce and expect their employers to be doing good in the world. I also see corporate giving becoming more incorporated in the businesses instead of being a stand-alone program. Nordson created a Scholarship Program, Nordson BUILDS, to try and grow a talent pool who will come and work for us in the future. While these efforts are philanthropic they are also important to our business as we continue to grow.
  5. Any advice for companies on how to build in social responsibility and/or corporate giving?
    Start small. If you don’t have a budget, give your employees time to volunteer during the work day or organize drives for local nonprofits. Volunteering is a great way to get started and is very impactful both to the volunteer (employee) and the nonprofit.
  6. Which of the SDG values resonates most with the work you do?
    The SDG value of focusing on EQUITY really resonates with the work we are doing in the Nordson Corporation Foundation. We pursue and support results-oriented opportunities that prepare individuals for full and equal participation in the economic and social mainstream. We believe these kinds of programs help improve the quality of life over the long term and produce stronger, more enlightened communities in which we live and work. We strive to fulfill these responsibilities in our communities through contributions to charitable activities with a focus on education.

Learn more about Nordson Corporation Foundation.