24 Oct. 2017 | Comments (0)

Giving in Numbers: 2017 Edition, published by CECP in association with The Conference Board, has found 60 percent of companies are allocating more resources to programs that align with their strategic social cause area and 87 percent of companies measuring the impact of at least one grant. Companies are working with fewer partners and decreasing the total number of grants, while enlarging the remaining grants, signifying a continued move toward deeper relationships with nonprofit partners for increased impact.

The annual report, which garnered responses from 258 companies, also found median total giving among all companies increased by 2.3 percent between 2014 and 2016, with pharmaceutical companies seeing the greatest increases in societal investments. Support for the arts and cultural programs is also on the rise, with corporate cash giving growing 48 percent in the last three years, the most among all program areas. Multiple sources point to an increasing relevance of Culture and Arts among companies as a cause area, as well as the positive impact this program area has in the wellbeing of communities. These findings mirror those in Business Contributions to the Arts: 2017 Edition, by The Conference Board and Americans for the Arts.

A variety of recent events both natural and political have highlighted the importance of corporate giving. It’s likely that importance will grow as climate change threatens more natural disasters and federal funding for important social causes, such as the arts, is put under a microscope. Although we’ve seen a slight increase in corporate giving in the past three years, data from the most recent 12 months suggests contributions are plateauing. Corporate giving teams need all the tools in their arsenal to advocate for higher budgets as nonprofits turn increasingly to companies for funding. 

Additional key findings

  • The top 25 percent of companies—or top quartile—when measuring total giving, gave at least $53 million in 2016, or 1.70 percent of pre-tax profit. Median total giving in 2016 among all 258 respondents was $19 million (0.91 percent of pre-tax profit).
  • Total giving increased: Median total giving among all companies increased by 2.3 percent between 2014 and 2016.
  • Measuring outcomes became a more widespread practice: Assessing societal impact or outcomes of corporate initiatives remains a prevalent practice among leading companies, and in 2016, 87 percent of companies measured the impact of at least one grant (up from 85 percent in 2014).
  • The Health Care industry made a big impact on aggregate total giving: Companies in the facilities/medical equipment subindustry accounted for three quarters of the aggregate decrease in total giving. On the other side, pharmaceutical companies drove the largest proportion of the aggregate total giving increase across industries.

Download Giving in Numbers: 2017 Edition for free.

  • About the Author: Alexander Parkinson

    Alexander Parkinson

    Alex Parkinson is a senior researcher and associate director of the Society for New Communications Research of The Conference Board (SNCR). He specializes in corporate philanthropy and communications …

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