It’s not uncommon for visitors to the 10th floor of USAA’s downtown offices to leave with a slim red book in hand, a guide for business people based on the premise,”The more you give, the more you have.”

The book tells the story of a stressed-out salesperson who learns the only way to true success is by being a “go-giver.” For Harriet Dominique, senior vice president of corporate responsibility and corporate affairs at USAA, The Go-Giver by Bob Burg is a favorite – and one she gifts at every turn.

“I just believe that USAA has go-giver principles in its DNA. That’s why we put the members first. Our employees are go-givers,” Dominique said as she shared copies of the hardcover book. “I believe that go-giver principles are built into our corporate responsibility strategy.”

The principle of more giving came up when Dominique two years ago announced changes to USAA’s corporate philanthropic philosophy, narrowing its focus to military causes. At the time, she said USAA executives also expected to double giving by 2018. They were right.

The financial services giant is currently on track to contribute $38.4 million – 1 percent of its pre-tax income (PTI) – to nonprofits in several targeted areas. That’s up from $28.4 million in 2017.

It’s a figure that puts USAA in league with some of the Fortune 500’s top most charitable companies in terms of PTI, according to data from the Chronicle of Philanthropy. What’s more important, Dominique noted, is that USAA projects its contributions will touch 1.6 million lives in 2018.

“Our signature cause is military family resiliency,” she said. “We have shifted away from small dollars to a lot of varied nonprofits, and we’re now more deeply invested in causes that make a deep impact, with a significant increase in military causes.”

Dominique calls the strategy, now in its third year of implementation, a prioritization tool, and says USAA is committed to directing 60 percent of its charitable giving to military causes through “signature alliances” with nonprofit organizations. Support for military caregivers is an area identified as underserved by other organizations that support military families, and thus is an area of focus for USAA.

On a local level here and in locations where the company has a presence – including cities like Tampa, Florida, and Colorado Springs, Colorado – USAA contributes to three primary areas: families in need, education, and safety and natural disasters.

A Giving Leader

Dominique may be the agent of USAA giving, but the first line of her official company biography states that she grew up rooted in the values of humility, faith, and service, instilled by her parents. One could also call her a go-getter.

Starting at USAA in 1989 as an entry-level member services representative, Dominique progressed through a variety of business and leadership roles in human resources, call center operations, and sales and service operations, among others. Prior to her executive role at USAA in San Antonio, she served as general manager of USAA’s Phoenix office. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the private, nonprofit Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.

“Personally and professionally, I aspire to be a go-giver,” Dominique said. “It is amazing that I get to … share the USAA story, partner with these incredible professionals, and just try to make a difference in the world, the military community, by being a go-giver.”

Harriet Dominique, USAA Senior Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and Community Affairs.
Harriet Dominique, USAA senior vice president of corporate responsibility and community affairs. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Currently residing in a downtown condo with her husband Robert, who works in IT at USAA, Dominique also serves as general manager of USAA’s downtown offices, a responsibility that grows as the company’s presence in the center city expands.

Since moving into three floors of the One Riverwalk Place building in 2015, USAA has grown to occupy a total of eight floors. By 2019, the company will have in all 1,600 workers downtown in that building and in the one at 300 Convent St. across the street.

Earlier this year, the Texas Diversity Council named Dominique one of 2018’s Most Powerful & Influential Women of Texas. In 2016, her leadership and USAA’s approach to corporate responsibility was highlighted by the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship. The accolades pile up. But Dominique is quick to share the credit not only for her success, but also for USAA’s.

“I hope that I haven’t said ‘I’ too many times because the only thing that I get to do is be so fortunate to have oversight of this,” Dominique told the Rivard Report. “I’ve got this incredible team here in this building. Then there’s hundreds of employees around the organization, plus stakeholders externally that have helped build this with their insights and inputs and are helping to drive to this.”

Local Giving

In San Antonio, USAA gives to organizations that address basic human needs, such as the San Antonio Food Bank and Haven For Hope; to STEM-based education efforts, such as Discovery Education; and to natural disaster relief efforts, which totaled $5 million in 2017. USAA has a subset of its giving focus that includes workforce development, economic development, and the arts.

In 2016, USAA pledged $2.1 million over a three-year period to support the local effort to end veteran homelessness, inspired by the Mayor’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. In 2017, the organization announced it would give an additional $1.3 million.

USAA contributed an additional $10 million to communities by the company’s 33,000 employees through an open giving campaign that includes the option to give through the United Way. USAA’s San Antonio workforce numbers 19,000, with most employees based in the sprawling headquarters campus on Interstate 10 in northwest San Antonio.

USAA gives employees two paid days a year to volunteer in the community and matches every 24 hours of volunteer work with a contribution of $200 to the employee’s charity of choice. In 2017, 29,000 employees and retirees volunteered 450,000 hours.

“There are about 7,500 nonprofits in the Bexar County area,” Dominique said. “We encourage our employees to give to those nonprofits as well, if that is where their passions lie. So United Way remains center stage for the way our employees can give. We have an incredible relationship with them.”

USAA’s CEO Stuart Parker will serve as chairman of the United Way San Antonio citywide campaign in 2019. He will succeed  Kim Lubel, former president and CEO of CST Brands, who recently announced the 2018 United Way Community Campaign goal exceeds $41 million.

Shari Biediger has been covering business and development for the San Antonio Report since 2017. A graduate of St. Mary’s University, she has worked in the corporate and nonprofit worlds in San Antonio...