Newman’s Own Foundation, the Westport-based philanthropy founded by the Academy Award-winning actor Paul Newman, announced that it reached the $500 million milestone for charitable donations.Launched in 1982, the company allocates 100 percent of the profits from the Newman’s Own food and beverage product line to charitable nonprofits. To date, the foundation has provided grants to more than 7,600 charitable organizations, averaging about $30 million in grants per year.
“When Paul started Newman’s Own 35 years ago, some people wondered if the company could survive if it gave all its profits away, but after three and a half decades, we’re proud to continue his legacy and reach a half-billion dollars in donations,” said Bob Forrester, president and CEO of Newman’s Own Foundation and co-chairman of Newman’s Own. “Paul would be especially pleased to see how much the company has grown and how much positive impact it has had helping charities around the world. And he would be gratified to see a new generation of employees embrace the same values he established long ago, using these core values as an anchor and inspiration to carry on his philanthropic work.”
However, the near-term future of Newman’s Own Foundation is cloudy. A provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that would have exempted the foundation from a 200 percent federal excise tax on the value of the for-profit Newman’s Own was dropped from the legislation before it was signed into law by President Trump on Dec. 22. The foundation received an IRS exemption in 2013 that is due to expire in November and Forrester said that it would be extremely difficult to sell the food company to a third party because of its mission of donating all of its profits to charitable works.
“Nobody has the authority to say ‘You have to go out of business,’ but they have the authority to make you pay a 200 percent tax rate that in effect makes you go out of business,” he said.