More than $25 million to be given globally through programs, customer concessions

Des Moines-based Principal Financial Group and the Principal Foundation today launched two major community-based initiatives, which are estimated to have a $25 million impact on Greater Des Moines as well as communities worldwide in which Principal does business. 

The two new programs – the Principal Giving Chain and the Principal Foundation Global Relief Fund – build on previous support Principal has announced for customers accessing retirement funds, requesting payment extensions, and other adjustments to help manage financial challenges due to COVID-19. 

In the first of the new initiatives, the Principal Giving Chain, Principal will buy thousands of meals and activity kits – sourced from and in collaboration with local businesses and nonprofits — and donate those meals and materials to individuals and families through community organizations. That program will kick off in Greater Des Moines and also will be provided in more than 30 communities globally. 

“So it’s really kind of a two-for-one benefit,” Houston said. “We’re first [helping] small- and medium-sized businesses, minority-owned businesses by paying full-freight for the food and services, and then working with the nonprofits to help people within our own community. We hope that really inspires other organizations and other individuals to replicate that.” 

The combined efforts of these programs to support customers, communities and businesses financially impacted by COVID-19 are expected to total more than $25 million globally, said Dan Houston, Principal’s chairman, CEO and president. 

Principal has carefully vetted and selected more than 20 Greater Des Moines businesses that it is initially working with to source meals and activity kit materials for the Giving Chain initiative, with an emphasis on assisting minority-owned and small businesses. 

“We want the meals to be purchased from small, locally-owned firms,” Houston told the Business Record. “We like minority-owned firms, we like female-owned organizations. We’re trying to do our part in helping make sure we support a broad range of business owners.

“We want to make sure that the recipients are truly getting those meals into the hands of people who deserve them,” he said. 

Principal has selected six nonprofits that it is working with locally for the Principal Giving Chain. They include the Young Women’s Resource Center, Hope Center for Children and Families, Beacon of Life, Dorothy’s House, House of Mercy and Oakridge Neighborhood. Locally, the program will deliver more than 15,000 meals and nearly 3,000 activity kits.

The program is still being fine-tuned, Houston said. “We’d rather be very selective and thoughtful, as opposed to sort of opening up the floodgates on these kinds of programs but as you might expect, we’re in uncharted waters on how to do this successfully. We’re trying to figure that out, and my guess is we’ll know more in two weeks and we know right now.” 

The Principal Foundation Global Relief Fund began as a response to Principal employees who have been asking for ways to help people, Houston said. The fund particularly seeks to help families of Principal employees whose partners or family members have lost their jobs, as well as the custodial, food services and security personnel displaced from work as Principal has shifted its headquarters and work locations globally to remote work. 

“So we’re taking care of those people through our Principal Foundation Global Relief Fund, and we’re doing that globally, around all of our sites around the world, because this is truly a global pandemic,” he said. 

Individuals can contribute to the Relief Fund, and there is a grant application process for people who want to be recipients of funds. 

“The establishment of these Principal and Principal Foundation initiatives was primarily a result of listening to, and acting on, our employees’ desire to help others,” Houston said. “I am incredibly proud of their philanthropy and sense of communal responsibility.”

More information about the Principal Foundation Global Relief Fund can be found by visiting