Higher corporate profits lead to increased charitable giving

Published: Monday, Oct. 15 2012 8:51 p.m. MDT

The Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy, in conjunction with the Conference Board, recently reported on corporate philanthropic giving for 2011. Committee membership includes CEOs and chairpersons from companies accounting for more than 40 percent of total reported corporate giving in the U.S. Total contributions reported by these companies amounted to more than $19.9 billion.

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The Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy, in conjunction with the Conference Board, recently reported on corporate philanthropic giving for 2011. Committee membership includes CEOs and chairpersons from companies accounting for more than 40 percent of total reported corporate giving in the U.S. Total contributions reported by these companies amounted to more than $19.9 billion.

Completed surveys were received from 213 corporations and included 62 of the top 100 companies in the Fortune 500 listing. Sixty percent of the companies reported giving more in 2011 than in 2009.

A recent low in corporate giving was reported for 2009, as many companies struggled with the challenging economic and regulatory environment.

Median giving for the 213 companies was $21 million each. For the 62 Fortune 100 companies, median giving was reported to be $57.3 million. For the purposes of this survey, contributions of cash and goods are included in the totals.

Giving priorities for these companies included areas such as health, education, and community and economic development. Twenty-eight percent of the donations went to health and social services organizations. The next highest allocation was to K-12 education priorities, with these recipients getting 15 percent of the corporate giving.

Domestic and international entities benefited from this charitable corporate giving. On average, 14 percent of the total corporate giving went to international recipients. Often, natural disasters are significant catalysts for increased international giving.

Corporations were segmented into nine industry classifications ranging from consumer discretionary to utilities. Energy companies reported the highest median total giving at $59.5 million per reporting company. At the low end of the scale, materials companies reported median total giving of $7.4 million each for 2011.

Another segmentation of the 213 companies that responded to the survey was by the amount of pre-tax earnings.

As might be expected, the companies with the largest reported pre-tax income also reported the largest median giving of $146 million per company. Pre-tax income of more than $10 billion was required to be included in the category of the largest entities. The next segment of companies was for those with reported pre-tax income of between $5 billion and $10 billion. The median giving amount for this segment of companies was $60.3 million.

This trend continues down through the various levels of pre-tax income. The more profitable the company, the higher the median level of charitable giving.

Many other insightful statistics are provided in this report by the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy. Perhaps one of the significant observations might be that creating an economic and regulatory environment supportive of productive and profitable businesses results in more charitable contributions, whether in the form of cash, goods or services.

Kirby Brown is the CEO of Beneficial Financial Group in Salt Lake City.

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