Recent trends in corporate giving highlighted in annual report

Last month, the annual Giving in Numbers report was released by the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) in association with The Conference Board. This report is based on data collected in their 2011 Corporate Giving Standard survey of over 200 Fortune 500 companies. Although the 2012 data still is not in yet, the 2011 data reveals some interesting trends:

Most Companies Gave More
Each of the Fortune 500 companies in the report gave an average of $21 million ($695 per employee), and 60% of the companies gave more in 2011 than they did in 2009. For a third of the companies in the survey, giving rose by 25% or more. This shows that a substantial number of companies are progressing towards their giving levels prior to the financial crisis, even with continued uncertainty about the global economy.

Larger Grants in Fewer Numbers
The median number of grants since 2009 fell by 26% and the median grant size increased by 31%. This is indicative of a trend towards more selective giving and providing each recipient organization with more resources to dedicate towards their goals. Most companies in the survey make several large signature grants each year, along with hundreds of smaller grants; however this is a staggering shift that reveals a change in how companies approach giving.

More Focused Causes
Over time, the surveyed companies have shown a trend towards focusing on not only fewer charities, but also fewer charitable categories. Of the companies surveyed, 79% gave at least 20% of their total contributions to the Education or Health and Social Services donation categories, while 31% of companies gave 50% or more of their total contributions to a single program area.

Major Swings in Non-Cash Giving
Non-cash giving, such as donated services or products, and other contributions, such as computers or land, showed a much larger inflation-adjusted swing than cash donations. For companies that decreased total giving since 2009, non-cash donations fell by an average of 47%. Companies with increased giving since 2009 raised their non-cash donations by an average of 32%.

Varying Trends in Donation Types by Industry
Some industries, such as Energy, Utilities, Materials, and IT, provide more than 50% of their funding as direct corporate cash. Financial and Industrial companies provide nearly 50% of their charitable funding through their foundations, while Healthcare companies provide nearly half of their giving as non-cash contributions. Most staggering of all, Pharmaceutical companies on average provide almost 90% of their total giving in the form of non-cash donations.

Projected Trends for 2012
It is going to take some time for the 2012 numbers to come in, especially since more than a third of corporate charitable donations are typically processed in the last quarter of the year. At the time the survey data was collected in early 2012, approximately 40% of companies expected corporate giving to increase from 2011 to 2012. However, very few of these companies expected their giving to rise more than 10%, and nearly half of the companies surveyed expected their 2012 giving levels to remain unchanged.

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