Community Health Charities’ Health Champions Inaugural Top Five List

Health Champion Logo - Ribbon.jpgBy Thomas G. Bognanno

This year, I am pleased to announce our inaugural Community Health Charities’ Health Champions campaign to recognize our corporate partners who are leading the charge in engaging their employees in critical giving and volunteer activities for health this year. The top five companies include: Wells Fargo, Anthem Foundation, UnitedHealth Group, American Express and Sikorsky.

This is a new campaign we’ve established to honor and celebrate employers who are going above and beyond the call of duty in promoting employee giving and engagement in the area of health and wellness.  It is designed to recognize and encourage employers and employees to support leading health charities across the country. In 2016, Community Health Charities will expand this program to recognize businesses of all sizes who are making a difference in promoting charitable health causes.

Health and wellness has been the number one social issue facing the independent business community since 1981 according to the National Federation of Independent Business, and large companies have also struggled to contain costs that have exceeded the rate of inflation for every year for the past decade.  On average, companies are paying almost twice as much for health care for less coverage than they had a generation ago.

In this environment, it would be natural for companies to cut back, and yet the needs have never been greater.  Recent studies show that the vast majority of all charities are citing rising demand for their services.  Even worse, over half of them report that if they don’t meet their clients’ needs, they will go unfulfilled.  For many vulnerable populations, employee giving and employer philanthropic support for health causes is critical.

Given the circumstances, it only makes sense for us, as the leading health engagement specialists in the country for nearly 60 years, to recognize those organizations that have been particularly exceptional in their support for our charitable health causes that our nearly 2,000 member charities represent.

These employers have a number of shared characteristics.  They have active and engaged employees.  They understand the range of health care challenges that their communities face.  They have open and robust channels of communication.  They have senior leadership support and buy-in, and they don’t just give, but volunteer, hold fundraisers, mentor and train, visit hospitals and clinics, express their support, participate on boards, and back up their contributions and their communications with their actions.

Collectively, individual employees from each of the top five Community Health Charities’ Health Champions raised more than $9 million in their workplace giving campaigns for our member charities in 2015.

Because of their outstanding support, Community Health Charities can continue to improve millions of lives across the country. We can provide imperative resources to more than 65 million caregivers who care for a child with a life-threatening illness or an elderly parent in their final days. We can protect the mental health of the 300,000 veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression. We can work round-the-clock towards cures for all chronic diseases and life-threatening illnesses that more 133 million Americans battle every single day.

Here is a quick overview of each of our top five Community Health Charities’ Health Champions in 2015:

  • Wells Fargo:  With over 275,000 employees, Wells Fargo has a deep and abiding sense of giving back to the community.  Over the last four years, the company donated over $1.1 billion to nonprofits across the U.S.
  • Anthem Foundation:  As the philanthropic arm of Anthem, Inc., the Anthem Foundation promotes the organization’s commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in the communities it serves. Among the country’s largest corporate foundations, the Anthem Foundation partners with thousands of national and local nonprofit organizations that share their commitment to create a healthier generation of Americans. With nearly $50 million in open community activity throughout the 25 markets where they do business, their strategic focus ensures they are moving the needle in a positive direction on public health.
  • UnitedHealth Group: With nearly 200,000 employees serving over 125 million people worldwide, UnitedHealth Group employees have contributed over $154 million to charitable organizations and tracked more than 2.5 million volunteer hours of community service since 2004.
  • American Express: An iconic brand known for its charge and credit cards, as well as its travel services, the company’s employees and the American Express Foundation have donated to a wide range of health and human services organizations. American Express’ Healthy Living workplace wellness program, which operates across 22 different worksites globally, also exemplifies the company’s commitment to health and wellness.
  • Sikorsky Aircraft:  With a rich tradition of employee giving and engagement, Sikorsky has a deep commitment in giving back to the community. Whether putting together bicycles for a children’s hospital, helping to take care of veterans in need or developing aircrafts that have helped to save over two million lives since the first helicopter rescue in 1944, these all exemplify corporate culture and commitment.

To learn more about how your company can become a Community Health Charities’ Health Champion or to find out more about Community Health Charities, please visit or call 1-800-654-0845.

About the Author

Bognanno_Tom_office1Thomas G. Bognanno, President & CEO of Community Health Charities, works with a network of nearly 2,000 trusted health charities across the country. The organization leverages health nonprofits with the overall wellness and philanthropic strategies needed to engage employees in health initiatives, raise awareness and deploy critical funds for their charities –

American Express: Leveraging Non-traditional Disease Education into Wellness Strategies

Many people may not know that health nonprofits do more than invest research money for cures. The discoveries that come from research include why diseases occur, therapies and medications that can help manage them and the information that can be shared from breakthroughs. From research comes learning, and from learning comes educational opportunities to help those impacted by the very conditions that many nonprofit health organizations set out to find cures for.

Here, Denise Erickson and Maureen McCluskey, corporate health managers at American Express, share how they blended health nonprofits in nontraditional disease education with traditional resources to develop a program that positively affected the health and wellness of their employees.


Diabetes is a leading health concern in the United States. Approximately 5-10 percent of employee have diagnosed or non-diagnosed diabetes. More than 29 million Americans have diabetes – of these, more than 8 million people do not know they have the condition.

A workplace cost-calculator estimates a company with 1,000 employees will have 100 with diabetes and another 250 at-risk.² The total cost of diagnosed diabetes rose to $245 billion in 2012, including $69 billion in reduced productivity.

Diabetes and the potential for the disease were found to be prevalent following a strictly confidential health-risk appraisal offered to American Express employees. Diabetes was found to be a prevalent condition among employees. Research has demonstrated the importance of lifestyle changes to decrease the likelihood of prediabetes progressing to diabetes.


Knowing how common prediabetes and diabetes are among employees, American Express began offering a “Healthy Living with Diabetes” educational program in 2012. Before embarking on this wellness strategy, American Express partnered with Community Health Charities, a non-profit strategic health organization with particular expertise in diabetes, to help diabetic employees manage their disease including lifestyle interventions for prevention.

Healthy Living with Diabetes was rolled out to six major work locations with onsite clinics in 2012 and then to all U.S. employees online in 2013. The program has four key goals:

  • Educate employees on the value and importance of disease management;
  • Provide employees with information to enhance self-care;
  • Improve outcomes through systematic approaches;
  • Sustain employee engagement.

A communication plan was created for the program with the tag line – It’s Not Just About the Sugar – featuring a gummy bear graphic to offer a friendly and non-threatening invitation for employees to join the program. All employees were informed of the program through promotional materials, stories via the company’s intranet site and tailored invitations sent to at-risk populations through networking groups. Program components included:

Diabetes Laboratory Testing

• Fasting blood sugars and hemoglobin A1C levels were offered to employees with diabetes at baseline and then at six months, 12 months, two years and three years. Employees shared results with doctors.

Webinars/Lunch-and-Learn Sessions

  • Diabetes Academy on-site at Wellness Centers
  • Diabetes Education webinar
  • Diabetes Care from Head-to-Toe
  • Know Your Numbers
  • Physical Activity webinar
  • Meal Planning/ Carb Counting webinar
  • Diabetes Medications webinar
  • Coping with a Chronic Condition webinar

One-on-One Sessions

  • Nurse/Nurse Practitioner
  • Registered Dietician
  • Health Coach
  • Pharmacist
  • Healthy Minds (EAP counselors)

Tools & Resources

  • Diabetes Awareness Blog by Corporate Medical Director
  • Healthy lifestyle programs for weight management, smoking cessation, exercise and stress management

An online health information site was created for the American Express virtual community. Content was updated every two weeks and included:

  • Information and videos on the monthly topic
  • A dietitian blog asking employees to comment
  • Quizzes
  • Webinar promotion and replays

Impact on Employees

After three years, American Express has had several hundred employees join its Healthy Living with Diabetes program. As a result, 58 percent of its employees with diabetes have reported keeping their A1C — a measurement of one’s average blood glucose (blood sugar) — below 7. Follow- up measurement  revealed 62 percent with A1C below 7. The chart below indicates that participants did report behavior changes and better understanding of diabetes and care:

AmEX image

Healthy Living with Diabetes could not have been successful without the collaborative effort of internal and external resources. By leveraging relationships with nonprofit health organizations, American Express was able to provide:

  • Webinars presented by physicians on diabetes care
  • Videos for posting on Healthy Living with Diabetes site
  • Healthy recipes

Utilizing nontraditional avenues to enhance and/or expand wellness strategies can have a positive impact on employees. American Express continues to use these avenues in educational programs focusing on diseases that are critical to company employees like migraine, asthma, arthritis and heart disease.  To showcase this, Community Health Charities joined American Express at the Employer Healthcare & Benefits Congress, in Orlando, Fla  on Sept. 28 in a breakout session titled “Leveraging Health Nonprofits into Your Well-Being Strategy”.

About the Author

TomThomas G. Bognanno, President & CEO of Community Health Charities, works with a network of nearly 2,000 trusted health charities across the country. The organization leverages health nonprofits with the overall wellness and philanthropic strategies needed to engage employees in health initiatives, raise awareness and deploy critical funds for their charities –






1 Blog was previously published as a case study in Corporate Wellness Magazine

2 Workplace Cost Calculator; American Diabetes Association;; Accessed July 28, 2015.