Many Big Companies Plan to Give Less This Year, Study Finds

New York, NY (March 3, 2009)- The recession could take a big bite out of corporate giving this year, according to a new report by the Conference Board. Forty-five percent of businesses surveyed in February said they had already reduced the amount they plan to donate this year. Another 16 percent were considering such cuts. Thirty-five percent of companies said they would make fewer grants this year, and 21 percent said the grants they made would be smaller.

As they complete their giving budgets for 2009, corporate officials said they were most concerned about financial constraints (56 percent), the recession (50 percent), and the alignment of their giving with their business’s needs (47 percent).
“How their companies are faring overall financially is very much on the minds of leading U.S. companies when allotting their corporate philanthropy monies,” said Carolyn Cavicchio, senior research associate at the Conference Board’s global-corporate citizenship program. “There is a definite shift toward more critical business issues and an increased emphasis on measuring giving outcomes.”
The survey found that, among types of gifts, sponsorships of events would take the biggest hit. Fifty-five percent of businesses said they would cut back on that form of giving.
Volunteer programs are expected to see the biggest growth this year, with 45 percent of companies saying they would spend more on efforts to get their employees to donate their time to good causes.
Of the causes that businesses in the survey supported, arts and culture is projected to see the biggest drop, according to the report. Fifty-five percent of survey respondents said they would give less to arts charities.
Environmental groups and programs, meanwhile, will probably see the biggest increase in support. Forty percent of companies said they planned to spend more in 2009 on efforts to promote environmental sustainability and fight climate change.
Giving within the United States is expected to remain flat, according to the report. Among foreign countries, China will likely see the biggest increase in donations.
Of the management issues on the minds of survey respondents, how to measure results of their philanthropic efforts rose to the top. Respondents also frequently cited the issue of how to promote awareness about their company’s brand.
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Many Big Companies Plan to Give Less This Year, Study Finds