Amid recession, U.S. companies boost non-cash giving

By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (BestGrowthStock) – Most U.S. companies gave less money to charity in 2009, but total corporate philanthropy rose seven percent to $9.9 billion, boosted by product, service, land and space donations, a study released on Wednesday found.

The Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy’s “Giving in Numbers” report said cash giving fell to $3.8 billion last year from $4 billion in 2008, while noncash philanthropy rose to $6.1 billion from $5.3 billion.

The fourth annual study by the committee — a forum of business leaders that aims to improve corporate philanthropy — used data from 95 companies, including 42 businesses listed in the Fortune 100 ranking of the largest U.S. corporations.

“In terms of the companies that decreased giving one of the most prominent reasons was that there were mandated spending decreases within the company, their budgets were reduced, and they were looking for other ways to continue to support their nonprofit partners,” said the report’s author Alison Rose.

“Also we did see fewer international disasters in 2009 that required an immediate response,” she said.

About two-thirds of companies reduced their cash giving last year with many cutting contributions by more than 10 percent, the study found, amid the worst financial crisis in decades.

But the country’s financial woes resulted in companies focusing their philanthropic efforts a little more on health and social services and community and economic development.

“From what we’re hearing companies are using this opportunity to take a more strategic approach to their giving. We see that in the amount of funds going to certain program areas as companies are becoming more focused,” Rose said.

“We also see an increase in employee volunteerism, fundraising, things like this that I think will continue and certainly not fade out even though they were instituted in a time when it was necessary in response to the financial crisis,” she said.

“Giving in Numbers” did not include volunteerism in corporate noncash giving, but the study found 64 percent of businesses offered employees paid time off to volunteer, up from 62 percent in 2008 and 46 percent in 2007.

Total U.S. charitable giving fell 3.9 percent in 2009 to $303.7 billion, the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University found. Individual giving was flat at $227 billion, while corporate giving rose to $14.1 billion, it said.

(Editing by Daniel Trotta and Jerry Norton)

Amid recession, U.S. companies boost non-cash giving