Corporate philanthropy day

International Corporate Philanthropy Day

Dana Lacey, Financial Post, February 20, 2010

When disaster strikes, companies tend to give above and beyond their philanthropic budget. While the year is still young, 2010 has already proved philanthropically demanding as Haiti’s plea for aid is heard around the world.

It’s no secret that corporate budgets are strapped these days. Will the economy affect how companies give?

The Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy doesn’t think so. CECP is an international forum of CEOs, chairpeople and other business executives focused on corporate philanthropy. A recent survey of 137 multinational companies found financial results are not statistically linked to corporate giving. Despite the battered economy, half of the companies surveyed increased giving last year, despite average profit declines of 68% of respondents. Even better, more than a quarter upped giving by 10% or more.

While financial performance does play a role in philanthropic budget-setting, increases or decreases in profitability mostly did not affect the amount donated. But it has created a shift in the way companies donate. When cash is in increasingly short supply, many companies increase their non-cash gifts. For example, donations of securities are up 29% since 2008.

But corporate giving is more than just being a “good” move. It can also be a smart business move. A report by the Conference Board of Canada shows that companies are thinking strategically about philanthropy, aligning programs to meet business objectives such as promoting the company or creating branding opportunities. For example, group volunteer initiatives can have employee benefits like professional development, team-building and retention, internal and external communication opportunities.

Of the 77 companies surveyed by the Conference Board, more than a third said the biggest challenge in managing corporate contribution programs is the measurement of results and outcomes.

That is one of the objectives of the International Corporate Philanthropy Day, held this year on Monday. Organized by CECP, the global event is an opportunity to engage senior management and employees in corporate giving programs, publicize a company’s philanthropic initiatives and raise awareness of the role of corporate philanthropy in fostering strong relationships across sectors.

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