I am writing in response to your article “It’s Legal in Some States” in your October 3rd issue regarding community support by energy companies, specifically Entergy and Mississippi Power.
Energy companies are regulated and limited to how much profit they can make so it isn’t as if they can base their giving back to the community on their profits or losses. Rates go up with the cost of inputs, such as fuel, not corporate giving. Should either company stop giving they are still faced with the dilemma, at the very least, of providing services to low-income families. If they don’t partner with nonprofits, they would have to hire a staff specifically for such efforts. The expenses of helping out a low-income family would then be tied up in hiring and housing employees. The cost to the customer will actually become greater than if they partnered with a nonprofit. Working with a nonprofit is less expensive and leverages outside dollars so that the company’s contribution goes much further.
Both companies have a long history of supporting community initiatives that improve homes, support education, and assist low-income individuals. They realize that the need is greater than any one company can address but are willing to be part of the solution rather than ignore the problem. If they are not able to contribute to charities, programs such as the Individual Development Accounts (IDA), retro-fitting homes for energy efficiencies, and other cost-saving programs specifically designed to assist low-income individuals and families would not be in existence.
Mississippi government, corporations and individuals are individually unable to sustain the level of cost-effective services that nonprofits provide. Leveraging dollars, however, is a cost-effective way to provide critical services to residents. The fact that Entergy and Mississippi Power could have been legally reimbursed but continue to give without regard for whether it is reimbursable says a great deal about the integrity of both companies.
I would hope that all Mississippians would want our corporate community to help make Mississippi a stronger state through stronger families. Before anyone casts stones, answer…“how much did YOU donate to a Mississippi nonprofit this past year?”
Mark R. McCrary
Mississippi Center for Nonprofits