John Deere Foundation celebrates 75th anniversary

More than $400M invested in John Deere communities


The John Deere Foundation is celebrating 75 years of supporting families who live, work, and learn in John Deere home communities and around the world. 

Since its inception in 1948, the foundation has donated more than $400 million and strengthened the work of thousands of nonprofit organizations that create meaningful, measurable, and long-lasting impact on the lives of others.

In a news release this week from Moline-based Deere & Co., the foundation shared how it has built upon John Deere’s legacy of commitment to the people upon whom its success depends, especially the neighbors in Deere hometowns. The John Deere Foundation was one of the first corporate foundations established by any U.S. manufacturer.

John May
John May

During the toughest times, from the Farm Crisis of the 1980s to the COVID-19 pandemic, the foundation stepped up to ensure that its neighbors had access to nutrition, shelter, and education, all of which are vital to self-sufficiency and dignity.

In recent years, the foundation’s aspirations have grown alongside John Deere’s success and growth. 

In 2021, the foundation announced a commitment to award at least $200 million over the next decade, and since that time has exceeded its goals. Among its philanthropic work has been: $68 million in total giving; 42 million meals to families; serving 290,000 marginalized youth through educational programs and supporting 9.7 million smallholder farmers to increase their incomes and productivity.

In the release, the foundation said its impact on the lives of those it serves is made stronger by the generosity of John Deere employees.

Giving by the numbers

Through employee giving programs, which provide matched funds to non-profit organizations that employees support as volunteers and donors, John Deere’s employees have helped direct more than $20 million of the foundation’s funds into their home communities since 2021, including:

  • 559,000 hours of volunteerism, including more than 260,000 in 2023 alone.
  • $10.3 million in employees’ personal donations matched.
  • $8.9 million in rewards for employees’ volunteering.
  • 6,000 nonprofit organizations supported.

“When John Deere employees volunteer for or give to causes that mean something to them, they create a ripple effect that has an immediate impact on individuals and families within our home communities,” John May, the company’s CEO and John Deere Foundation chairman, said in the release. “The John Deere Foundation has been a powerful catalyst for change since 1948, and we will continue to invest generously in organizations that help relieve and uplift our neighbors. It’s about treating people with honesty, integrity, and respect — plain and simple.”

Nate Clark

Looking ahead to the next 75 years, the foundation said it will continue to innovate new ways to make an even greater impact. 

One way it already is doing this is by providing unrestricted support to nonprofit organizations.

“Whenever we give freely to nonprofit organizations and provide them with the resources they can use to better serve others, they have a greater impact,” said foundation President Nate Clark, who also is Deere’s global director of Corporate Social Responsibility.

“Just like John Deere works tirelessly to earn the trust of our customers, the foundation strives to earn the trust of the nonprofits and communities we serve. This is our legacy and our future.”

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