Massachusetts Nonprofit Network Appoints Robert Gittens to Board of Directors


January 26, 2017

Massachusetts Nonprofit Network Appoints Robert Gittens to Board of Directors

(BOSTON, Mass) The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN), the statewide association that strengthens the nonprofit sector through advocacy, public awareness, and capacity-building, is pleased to announce that it has appointed Robert Gittens, Executive Director of Cambridge Family and Children’s Service, to its Board of Directors.

“On behalf of MNN’s Board of Directors, I want to extend a big welcome to Bob Gittens,” said David Shapiro, Chairman of MNN’s Board. “Bob brings with him a wealth of experience in both the public and nonprofit sectors, and we look forward to benefitting from his volunteer leadership as we work to elevate and advocate for the central role of nonprofits in making the Commonwealth a great place to live.”

“We are very excited to welcome Bob to MNN’s Board of Directors,” said Jim Klocke, CEO of MNN. “Bob has been an important leader in the community for many years. His vast experience in public affairs and advocacy will be invaluable as we work to strengthen the nonprofit sector.”

“I am thrilled to be joining the board of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network,” said Bob. “I am very much looking forward to working with a great group of leaders to support and promote the Commonwealth’s vibrant nonprofit sector.”

Bob has been the Executive Director at Cambridge Family and Children Services since 2016. Prior to his current role, he served as the Vice President of Public Affairs at Northeastern University for 13 years. He served as cabinet secretary of the Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services from 2001-2003 and was commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services from 1997-2001. He was First Assistant District Attorney in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office from 1992-1997 and Chairman of the Massachusetts Parole Board from 1990-92.

Bob holds a J.D. degree from Northeastern University School of Law and a B.A. in Political Science from Northeastern. He has been a leader in the community as Chairman of the Massachusetts Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee and member of the Governor’s Youth Violence Task Force. Bob has served as a board member of numerous organizations including Judge Baker Children’s Center, Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and Goodwill Industries.

You can view a full list of MNN’s Board here.


About the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network

The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN) is the voice of the nonprofit sector, bringing together all parts of the nonprofit ecosystem – organizations, funders, community and business leaders, and elected and appointed officials – to strengthen nonprofits and raise the sector’s voice on critical issues. MNN understands that strong nonprofits build strong communities. It is MNN’s mission to strengthen the nonprofit community through advocacy, public awareness, and capacity building.  MNN has more than 650 nonprofit members made up of organizations from eight subsectors and located in every part of Massachusetts, from the Berkshires to the Cape and Islands. For more information about the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, visit

Nominations sought for nonprofit representative to state energy efficiency council

Media Contact:
Kaitlin Henry, Communications Manager
Massachusetts Nonprofit Network
617-330-1188 x 285,


BOSTON- Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN), the statewide organization representing the nonprofit sector, is seeking nominations for a representative to the state’s Energy Efficiency Advisory Council. The Council, established as part of the Green Communities Act in 2008, reviews and approves the three-year energy efficiency plans prepared by the Commonwealth’s gas and electric distribution companies and approved municipal aggregators. The Council was expanded, in this year’s electricity bill, to include a representative from MNN’s network of nonprofit organizations.

“Nonprofits represent 16.7% of the workforce in Massachusetts and control over $250 billion in annual revenues,” commented Massachusetts Nonprofit Network CEO Rick Jakious. “The inclusion of nonprofits on the Council recognizes to scope and scale of the sector and its importance in helping the state meet its long-term climate control goals.”

The role of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network representative to the Council is to review, approve, and  monitor energy efficiency plans and programs required of the state’s investor-owned gas and electric utilities and energy providers and to help the nonprofit sector save energy and lower operating costs by advocating for nonprofit targeted efficiency programs. The Energy Efficiency Plans are designed to deliver energy savings, improve energy security, create local jobs, and reduce pollution including greenhouse gas emissions.

MNN is seeking interested candidates who are dedicated to improving efficiency opportunities available to nonprofits, with a background in energy, sustainability or a related field. Interested applicants should visit MNN’s website at



Nonprofits, corporations look for common ground

Worcester Telegram & Gazette
November 25, 2012
By Brian Boyd

While nonprofit groups want to tap the resources of the private sector, many have a difficult time getting their foot in the door with busy corporate leaders. 

Although many organizations know which companies they want to target, half of the Massachusetts organizations that participated in a recent survey said they find the hardest part is making the initial contact with the company. 

More than a third of survey respondents rated “identifying how businesses will benefit from partnering with my organization” as one aspect at which they are least effective, according to a news release on the survey. 

“Nonprofits and corporations have to work closer together,” said John Hailer, president and chief executive officer of Natixis Global Asset Management — The Americas and Asia, a co-sponsor of the survey. 

Nonprofit leaders need to go beyond just describing their mission to business people, Mr. Hailer said. They must show how a partnership can also engage the company’s employees and improve their corporate culture; charitable work can bring employees closer together as they collaborate on a common cause, he said. 

For their part, corporate executives should be open to stronger relations with nonprofit groups and understand how charity benefits both the companies and their communities, Mr. Hailer said. 

Natixis, a global asset management company headquartered in Boston and Paris, supports social service charities. Its philanthropic approach includes giving employees a day off to give back to the community, he said.

The company decided to sponsor the survey after hearing about the challenges their nonprofit partners face. The survey was based on the online responses of 103 nonprofit organizations from across the state. 

Some corporations have shifted their thinking on philanthropy. Some companies want to move beyond the traditional approach, where business leaders simply cut a check and consider their work done, said Rick Jakious, chief executive of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network. 

Corporate partners are interested in contributing their time and knowledge to charitable endeavors, and nonprofit organizations need to show companies how both sides can benefit from a partnership, Mr. Jakious said.

“They want to know how can you put their skills and talent to use, either by engaging their employees or having members of their staff serve on your board of directors,” he said. 

David Waters, chief executive officer of Community Servings Inc., one of the nonprofits surveyed, said he was not surprised by the results. He said companies face a barrage of nonprofits seeking their support. 

“It’s hard to engage corporations, because there are many human services groups going to the well,” Mr. Waters said. “Also, corporate people are very busy, so how you engage them and how easy you make it for them to get involved often determines your success.” 

Community Servings delivers specially prepared meals to people with illnesses who cannot shop or cook for themselves. The meals are tailored to their specific medical needs. The organization is based in Boston and expanded to Worcester six weeks ago, he said. 

Based on his organization’s experience with corporations, Mr. Waters said if a nonprofit approaches a company with different ways for its staff to get involved, rather than just asking for money, it will more likely get a positive result. 

From a company’s perspective, philanthropic partnerships provide opportunities to build up their brand in the community and create positive word of mouth, Mr. Jakious said. 

At the same time, corporate sponsors are more interested in seeing results that nonprofit organizations can quantify, he said. 

Asked how nonprofit leaders can break the ice with company executives, Mr. Jakious said business leaders often travel in the same circles, attending chamber of commerce meetings and events for other nonprofit groups, and some companies have specific staff members given the task of working on corporate philanthropy goals. 

The financial services industry was the top contributor to the nonprofits surveyed in the study. 

A large majority of the nonprofits, 86 percent, received some support from banks, insurance companies and other financial service businesses. The next most common sector for corporate support was the health care industry (47 percent), followed by the construction and development industries (35 percent), according to the results. 

The economy isn’t making it easier to forge corporate partnerships. 

More than a third of the organizations reported that their funding decreased over the last year. On the positive side, though, more than half of the organizations said corporate funding has remained steady or increased, according to the survey. 

Moreover, the difficult economy ensures there will be a need for nonprofit programs that help the less fortunate, Mr. Hailer added. 

“The needs are going to be greater for the next few years,” he said.

Partnerships viewed as crucial to charities

The Boston Globe

October 29, 2012

By Erin Ailworth

With more Massachusetts residents in need of social service programs, many nonprofits that provide such services say one of their biggest challenges is building stronger relationships with the corporate donors that fund them, a recent survey by the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network and Natixis Global Asset Management shows.

The survey, of 103 Massachusetts nonprofits, highlighted the difficulties such organizations faced when the economic downturn put more people in need of help but led corporations to cut back on giving as their businesses suffered. That forced many aid agencies to compete against each other for a smaller pool of money.

“Breaking the ice is hard in any new relationship, and it’s particularly challenging for human service and other nonprofits pursuing corporate partners in an increasingly competitive landscape,” said John Hailer, president of Natixis Global Asset Management in the Americas and Asia.

More than half of the nonprofits surveyed said they felt they were “least effective” at making “initial contact” with potential business partners.

More than a third said their funding has dropped somewhat.

These problems can be addressed, Hailer said in an interview, if nonprofits figure out how to get “better about approaching businesses.” Corporations, he added, also need to rethink the way they support charities so that they are providing manpower as well as funding.

“Treat it like a partnership,” Hailer said. “Getting people connected and involved not only makes for a better charity and better giving, it makes a better company.”

The survey identified the state’s energy and biotechnology sectors as among the weakest sources of money for nonprofits, while construction and real estate businesses and health care providers were more reliable.

The strongest support came from financial services companies.

Earlier this year, Liberty Mutual said it would increase its charitable donations in Massachusetts in 2012 by 20 percent, to $17 million.

Bank of America, John Hancock Financial­ Services, and State Street Corp., said their philanthropic giving this year should be about the same as in 2011.

Rick Jakious, chief executive of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, said social service agencies should try to tap corporations for support — in large part because many businesses are seeking volunteer opportunities for their employees that lead to tangible results in Bay State communities.

“In this day and age, companies are looking for more than cutting a check. They’re looking for more than checkbook philanthropy,” Jakious said.

“And human services organizations [can] bring that impact and engagement to the ­table.”

Social Services Agencies and Other Nonprofits Struggle to Build Relationships with New Corporate Partners, but Deeper Levels of Engagement Extend Beyond Hard Dollars

The Boston Herald

October 29, 2012

Making the first key outreach to potential corporate partners is the biggest challenge for nonprofits in Massachusetts, according to a survey released jointly today by the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network and Natixis Global Asset Management (NGAM), one of the 15 largest asset managers in the world.

The challenge is particularly daunting for nonprofit human service agencies, which need creative ways to stand out amidst competition from larger arts and cultural organizations.

More than half of the 103 Massachusetts nonprofits surveyed said they were “least effective” in making “initial contact” with potential business partners and identified that as the most difficult part of getting support from the business community.

“Breaking the ice is hard in any new relationship, and it’s particularly challenging for human service and other nonprofits pursuing corporate partners in an increasingly competitive landscape,” said John Hailer, president and chief executive officer of NGAM – The Americas and Asia. “Nonprofits are an essential part of our community fabric, delivering services that provide a safety net and help fuel our economy. Those that provide critical human services are too easily overshadowed by large cultural organizations and brand-name arts and humanities nonprofits.”

Even after contact is made, demonstrating the value proposition for a potential corporate partnership is daunting. More than 35 percent of survey respondents rated “identifying how businesses will benefit from partnering with my organization” as one of the things at which they are least effective. Compounding the challenge is fierce competition from others in the nonprofit sector, including well-known arts and cultural organizations. In fact, nearly three-quarters (almost 74 percent) of organizations surveyed believe it is more difficult for nonprofits that focus on core social services to gain corporate support for their organization.

“The private sector can be a powerful partner to nonprofits and, as the survey illustrates, it is often under-leveraged by human service organizations,” said Rick Jakious, CEO of the Massachusetts

Nonprofit Network. “Human service organizations can benefit from the time, talent and treasure of the private sector. It is critical, however, that they understand that strong corporate engagement must be based on real partnership, not just checkbook philanthropy.”

Several of those surveyed said their most effective partnerships were with corporations that took time to learn about the organization they were supporting and who understood the significance of its mission. Many also reported that corporations are increasingly expressing a desire to take an active role in the work of their nonprofit partners. Other organizations said businesses are demanding “accountability” on the part of the non-profits and evidence of positive outcomes that result from their work.

“A plaque at a homeless shelter doesn’t reach the same number of eyes as a sponsorship ad at a musical program or a fundraising gala,” Hailer said. “But the relationship created offers a different – and often deeper – kind of experience. Both parties benefit from that.”

Jakious observed that while “marketing and brand visibility” are key metrics by which corporate funders evaluate potential partnerships, there are other measures which play better to the strengths of human service organizations. Chief among them: the opportunities a partnership provides to engage employees of the company.

“Employee engagement, when executed well, is a win-win for the nonprofit and its partner. And it can come in the form of one-day or ongoing volunteer opportunities,” Jakious said. “Increasingly, employers are seeking out skill-based volunteer opportunities. This can be a source of crucial expertise to a nonprofit, such as legal support, financial guidance, marketing expertise and so forth.”

Read more here:


Eastburn of Family Success Partnership Honored

MetroWest Daily News

The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN) recently announced that Nicki Eastburn at the Family Success Partnership of the Assabet Valley Collaborative, a human services organization in Marlborough, has been selected as a finalist for the 2012 Nonprofit Excellence Awards. The awards are given each year to outstanding nonprofit organizations and professionals in the state as part of MNN’s Nonprofit Awareness Day, a statewide holiday recognizing the nonprofit sector in Massachusetts. A Brookline resident, Eastburn has been selected as a finalist for the Nonprofit Excellence Award in the Young Professional category for her work supporting the needs of children and their families in MetroWest through her role as director of community and family supports for the Family Success Partnership.


New Englanders stingy? Study says yes, but low donations ranking disputed

Worcester Telegram & Gazette

By Paula J. Owens

We may have good ole’ Yankee ingenuity and New England pride, but when it comes to charitable giving, a recently released study says New Englanders are just plain stingy.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s study on the generosity of Americans released last week found that residents in states where religious participation is high, especially in the South, gave the greatest percentage of their discretionary income to charity. In the Northeast, where there is generally lower religious participation, people gave the least to charities, the study found, with the six New England states falling to the bottom of the list among the 50 states.

According to the study, Massachusetts ranks 48 out of 51, which includes the District of Columbia, based on percentage of income for all contributions, including religious.

Churches are among the organizations counted as charities in the study and the religious practice of tithing — a practice that requires followers of a faith to contribute a certain percentage of the their income — may skew the numbers, but, interestingly, when only secular giving is considered, some of the states at the bottom of the list rise to the top.

Nonprofit organizations in Worcester County say they just aren’t seeing what the study suggests.

Ann T. Lisi, director of the Greater Worcester Community Foundation for 22 years who works with donors and nonprofits in the region, said people in the area are extremely generous. The nonprofits she works with may see ups and downs in their ability to raise money, but there are steady increases, she said, when you track donations long-term.

“Even despite difficult economic climates, people tend to give, and it increases year after year,” Ms. Lisi said. “It is not specifically tied to the economy or unemployment rate. It makes you think you can weather a storm.”

Looking at the generosity index that indicates giving as a percentage of a person’s capacity to give, if faith-based contributions to churches, mosques and synagogues are taken out of the equation, it changes the philanthropic landscape tremendously, and Massachusetts ranks 14 out of 51, which includes the District of Columbia, according to the study.

“If you factor out giving to one’s religious organization, New England and Massachusetts rise to the top again — just that in itself is a worthwhile statement,” she said. “It is an important variable to consider. Certainly we don’t want to feel bad about our region as ungenerous, and I find that very encouraging. It makes you feel better. We’re humans and we want to think of ourselves as generous people.”

William A. White, spokesman for the North Central Massachusetts United Way, says if volunteer hours were counted in the study, North Central Massachusetts would debunk the stats in the study.

“We have one of the largest Day of Caring in the state and our Community Builders volunteer center is remarkable,” Mr. White said. “North Central Massachusetts debunks the statistic in the study on the number of hours of volunteerism in the 19 communities in our territory.”

Additionally, he believes charitable giving is higher in the area than the study indicates.

“Based on our experience in North Central Massachusetts, the ranking seems low,” he said. “We’ve done extremely well with charitable giving in our communities. Folks are very giving.”

Warner S. Fletcher, who serves as a trustee or board member of more than a dozen family foundations and nonprofit organizations in Worcester, said the information in the study is nothing really new.

Factors that drive people to charitable giving are important factors to consider, says the 67-year-old attorney who grew up in one of the city’s leading philanthropic families. His mother’s charitable trust was one of the first established in Worcester and is one of the largest now. “There are a number of factors involved in why people give,” Mr. Fletcher said. “In New England, generally religion is not as all-encompassing as it is in other areas. For people living in Worcester, a lot of things are important to them in their lives, and their social network just isn’t the church, if they go. In terms of relative need of importance, the church is lower.”

For families who have lived in Worcester for two or three generations or more, they may choose to give to charities that invest in the community, he said.

“If only secular contributions are considered, states described as stingy come out pretty well,” he said. “But, a commitment to faith-based charities clearly does result in a higher percentage of giving.”

Raymond L. Delisle, spokesman for the Diocese of Worcester, said if anything people’s generosity has grown.

Though the church has not yet met its annual Partners in Charity goal of $5 million this year, Mr. Delisle said the church doesn’t feel it is a reflection of people’s generosity. In 2010, the church’s goal of $4.8 million was met, he said, but the goal was increased in 2011 and 2012 because of an increase in need resulting from the downturn in the economy.

“With the downturn in the economy, people who normally have participated have not been able to, and others who can afford to have stepped up to the plate and increased their gifts, and new donors keep coming,” he said. “The fact that we’re not hitting our highest goal ever in a difficult economy is not necessarily a reflection of generosity. We’ve had to set higher goals because of the greater need due to the bad economy — the same economy that has made it a struggle to raise higher than we’ve ever raised in the past.”

He added, “We still see a very generous donor base here in Central Massachusetts.”

With about a week left in the annual appeal, about 95 percent of the $5 million goal has been raised. The appeal is short by about $300,000.

“It has been fairly steady over the past six or more years. If anything, there has been an influx of new donors. The problem with national studies is they are looking at donations in isolation.”

Mr. Delisle said an interesting statistic would be to look at a combination of donations and taxes. Moreover, the study doesn’t really quantify the full generosity of people, such as helping out a neighbor where there is no tax relief involved.

“Where would Massachusetts be then in terms of the rest of the country?” he said. “In our state, we fund a lot programs through taxes that many states simply do not fund. They are expecting and their tradition is that churches and nonprofit organizations have been providing a lot of those services.”

In Massachusetts, he said, residents feel as though they provide a core set of social services through tax programs and look to the church and charitable organizations to catch the people who fall through those safety nets.

“Church organizations in particular, and certainly our own, run with very low overhead costs and the majority of donations go right to services and people are willing to support them,” he said. “The real issue for any individual boils down to the simple matter of if it is within their means to do the kind of good they want to be doing through a combination of donations and taxes. We leave it to everyone’s judgment on how to do it on their own.”

Maj. Thomas S. Babbitt, from Worcester’s Main Street Salvation Army church, said he feels that New Englanders are not stingy, but just more cautious where their money goes.

“I don’t really think the study reflects that northerners are stingier, just more careful where they put their money,” Maj. Babbit said. “I think our donors are aware of our mission and many give because they know we do not discriminate in delivering services to people in

Richard A. Jakious, chief executive officer of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network in Boston, said the study should be taken with a grain of salt.

There are more than 25,000 nonprofits in the state, he said, employing about 500,000 people or 16.7 percent of Massachusetts’ workforce.

“I don’t think that any nonprofit executive in Massachusetts is kept up at night worrying about how their fundraising compares to organizations in Utah,” Mr. Jakious said. “They’re thinking about how to improve the social safety net, care for our sick and elderly, and how to protect our environmental, cultural and historical treasures.”

He said all forms of philanthropy should be considered.

“New Englanders aren’t stingy by any measure — they give an abundance of their time, talent and treasure to nonprofit organizations,” he said. “But, we can do more and should see this study, not as an opportunity to divide and point fingers, but as a call to action.”

New Law Supports Donations from Former Mass. Residents

Republished with permission from

As of July 1, former Massachusetts residents who have established residency in other states can continue providing financial donations to nonprofit organizations in the Bay State without fear of tax penalties.

This language was included in the state’s fiscal year 2013 budget and resulted from a year-long advocacy effort led by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC). 

Specifically, this amendment updated Massachusetts revenue law to prohibit the Department of Revenue (DOR) from considering charitable contributions in determining residency for tax purposes. DOR previously followed only a guideline, and its ambiguity deterred many out-of-state philanthropists from continuing to make gifts to local charities.

“We are thankful to JCRC for championing this effort, which will help nonprofit organizations in the Commonwealth continue to grow and thrive,” said Barry Shrage, president of Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Greater Boston’s Jewish Federation.

Rick Jakious, executive director of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, the state’s nonprofit trade association, said, “The prior ambiguity led some lawyers and tax advisers to caution their out-of-state clients against making contributions in Massachusetts. This change makes it clear that donors can rest assured that contributing to their favorite Massachusetts nonprofits will not have adverse tax implications.”

Added Michael K. Durkin, president of United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, “Charitable organizations are helping so many people in need – children who need high quality early learning experiences, youth who need support to stay in school and graduate, and families who struggle to be financially stable. Any donor who wants to make a contribution and an impact on important issues like these through the many high-performing, innovative organizations we have in Massachusetts can do so with assurance that their generosity will not impact their residency status.”

Massachusetts Nonprofit Network CEO’s Statement on Legislature’s Salary Reserve Override


BOSTON – Rick Jakious, CEO of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, released the following statement concerning the House and Senate’s unanimous override of Governor Deval Patrick’s veto of the Salary Reserve. This action maintains a $20 million Salary Reserve for direct care workers who provide essential services to residents of the Commonwealth.
“We congratulate and thank the human service organizations and workers, and legislators, who worked hard to make this override possible,” stated Jakious. “This is a significant accomplishment for the entire nonprofit sector because it is about fairness for thousands of front-line providers, whose salaries do not nearly match the importance of the work they do each day.”
About the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network
The Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN) is the voice of the entire nonprofit sector in Massachusetts. MNN was launched in 2007 to strengthen communities by serving nonprofit organizations through advocacy, public awareness and capacity building. MNN includes nearly 500 members, representing nonprofits in every part of Massachusetts, from the Berkshires to the Cape and Islands.



Walmart gives Boston Children’s Hospital $779,000

Boston Globe

By Erin Ailworth

BOSTON- The philanthropic arm of Walmart Stores Inc. said Friday it will donate $779,000 to Boston Children’s Hospital, the latest in a series of generous donations to area charities that could bolster the Arkansas retail chain’s local reputation after several failed attempts to expand in the Boston market.

Since the beginning of the year, the Walmart Foundation has donated more than $900,000 to Greater Boston charities, including $50,000 to the Greater Boston Food Bank and $25,000 to Boston Medical Center. In addition, the mega­retailer provided $5 million in funding to a Brandeis University-run national program to place nearly 3,000 at-risk teens in part-time summer jobs across the country.

“Walmart is in many ways, as a corporation, taking a leadership role that the government used to take,” said Susan P. Curnan, director of the Center for Youth and Communities at Brandeis.

The chain intends to keep funding local charities even though it currently has no stores in Boston, according to Walmart spokesman Steven Restivo. “Because of our [existing] relationships in the city we will continue to evaluate programs to fund whether we have stores in the Boston area or not,” he said.

The grant to Children’s Hospital will fund patient care, research, family support services, and the Children’s Miracle Hospital Network’s Champions program. Every year, the program sends one child from each state — representing all children struggling with severe medical challenges — on a trip with his or her family to Washington, D.C., and a celebration event at Disney World. Each child also receives a $500 Walmart gift card.

Through such philanthropy, Walmart may be trying to improve its local image. It has been difficult for the chain to break into some Massachusetts communities — especially Boston, where Mayor Thomas M. Menino remains opposed to the retail giant’s presence.

Walmart had hoped to build one of its Neighborhood Market grocery outlets at a shuttered MBTA maintenance facility near Dudley Square — a location with few supermarket options. But city officials declined last year to endorse the plan, saying they were concerned how Walmart’s presence might hurt local businesses. Menino’s office declined to comment for this story, saying his views have been well publicized already.

And last month, Walmart abandoned plans for a 34,000-square-foot Neighborhood Market in Somerville and a 90,000-square-foot store in Watertown. Although the retailer had not submitted formal plans for either store, its proposals divided residents of both communities.

Walmart currently has 47 Supercenters and discount stores in Massachusetts, as well as two Sam’s Clubs.

There is also a Supercenter under construction in Raynham, and the company has plans to break ground on another store in Saugus in the fall. Despite the recent setbacks, Restivo said Walmart remains committed to expanding in Massachusetts and giving to worthy local causes.

“We continue to think our stores can be a part of the solution in the Greater Boston area,” Restivo said.

The retailer’s broad-based giving strategy is not unusual, said Rick Jakious, chief executive of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, a statewide association meant to strengthen local philanthropies. Many companies, no matter the size, have recognized that corporate giving is more effective when linked to business strategy because they can target issues and communities that matter to their customers.

Walmart’s sheer size, however, sets it apart.

“Walmart is a pretty unique company in that they can be a game-changer to anything from an individual local organization to an entire national issue, simply by virtue of their scope and scale,” Jakious said. “So when they put their commitment and their dollars and their employees’ time and energy behind something, they can make a difference in a meaningful way that not a lot of other companies can.”

Jakious was working at City Year Inc. in 2011 when the Boston community service group received a $3.2 million award from Walmart that “changed the trajectory and depth of knowledge” around what City Year was doing with its early literacy program, he said.

Greater Boston Food Bank chief executive Catherine D’Amato said Walmart’s support has been invaluable to her organization, which has received two trucks and roughly $85,000 from the retailer since 2009.

D’Amato is counting on that support to continue, both because the Greater Boston Food Bank is part of the national Feeding America effort that Walmart supports, and because of the retailer’s expansion goals. “We still have their attention,” she said. “The New England market, as you know, is a very desirable market. It’s one of the few remaining locations for a company, a box store, the size of Walmart to penetrate.”

While he recognizes the good that Walmart’s charitable giving can do, Russ Davis, executive director of workers’ rights group Massachusetts Jobs with Justice said that he remains cautious of Walmart’s growing local presence.

“They’re going to give money to groups strategically in order to create a good impression,” Davis said. “Our concern is that it not be used as a commercial weapon. Groups shouldn’t feel pressured.”