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Mutual fund companies are in the business of making money. Plain and simple. But these complexes are often charitable givers too.

Since it's the season of giving, thought you might be interested to learn that many mutual fund companies have a sweet side; Throughout the year, they frequently give a portion of their corporate profits to various local and national charities, and, encourage their employees to do the same as well.

While there's no one central clearing house that tallies precisely how much fund families give each year, here's a look at some of the ways they have helped others in 1999:

  • MFS. One of the oldest fund families in the country, MFS was the lead sponsor of the Pan Massachusetts Challenge, a bike event that raises money for the Jimmy Fund, the fund raising arm of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

    "This year the event raised over 8.7 million dollars," says John Reilly, media relations manager of MFS. " In the past 20 years, the number of riders has gone from about 16 to 2700, Now this event is the single largest fund raiser for the Jimmy Fund."

    MFSs contribution to that pot was over $500,000, not quite one-third of the total $1.4 million the fund complex gave to charities this year. Some of the other recipients of MFSs giving include City Year, an Americorp Program, and the United Way.

  • OppenheimerFunds. During the past couple of years, OppenheimerFunds has streamlined the way it does its giving. Instead of giving smaller grants to a number of organizations, it's giving larger sums to four charities. Those charities are: Save the Children, a global children's services organization committed to helping women and children around the world; the American Cancer Society; the Special Olympics; and Teach For America, an organization that recruits college graduates to do a 2-year stint in some of the toughest schools around the country.

    OppenheimerFunds is also big on matching contributions that its employees make to qualified non-profit organizations. Employees can give up to $2000 to a qualified organization and OppenheimerFunds will match that gift dollar-for-dollar.

  • American Century. This Kansas City-based fund family is involved with Union Station, an old train station in the city that's being renovated and turned into a science facility and Liberty Memorial, one of the country's oldest World War I memorials. They also are sponsors of the American Century Annual Duck Derby. Money raised from it goes to local charities.

    "The rule of thumb is that we support a lot of charities in the communities where we have a sizable presence in terms of our employee base," says Chris Doyle, spokesperson for American Century.

  • Putnam. Along with giving to United Way and encouraging it's employees to be charitable givers as well, senior executives here have started pooling bonus money and giving it away.

    "Last year, Putnam executives pooled their bonus money, gathered 1 million dollars, and gave it to the Boys and Girls Clubs in Boston, " says Nancy Fisher, director of public relations at Putnam. "The money was used to wire clubhouses and to teach computer literacy to young people."

    This year the execs are expected to divvy up their $1 million among a couple of different charitable organizations.

  • Acorn. And at this small 75-person fund family, at this time of year the touch is a personal one.

    "Each year we sponsor a needy family in Chicago, " says Marilyn Morrison, spokesperson for the Acorn Family of Funds."They send us a list of things that they need, like clothes and toys for the kids, and people here buy those things for them. We also provide the family with a holiday dinner as well.

    Hope you are able to share something with someone--- or some group--- in need this season too.

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