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Bank charity lauded – 1999 grants totaled $94.7M

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Bank of America has been named the outstanding philanthropic corporation by the National Society of Fund Raising Executives.

But the bank also has drawn sharp criticism for the huge compensation package given to its chairman.

Created Oct. 1, 1998, by the merger of NationsBank in Charlotte, N.C., and Bank of America in San Francisco, the bank made contributions in 1999 totaling $94.7 million, up from $91 million in 1998.

Last year, the bank also announced a commitment to contribute $50 million over five years to support early childhood development through the “Success by Six” program of the United Way.

The company also encourages its employees to volunteer for charities. As an incentive, the bank will contribute $250 to a nonprofit for which an employee volunteers for more than 50 hours. For 100 hours of volunteer time, the bank will contribute $500.

But Bank of America, which will be recognized by NSFRE on March 27 at its international conference, also has been stung by criticism of the $76 million compensation package for Hugh L. McColl Jr., its chairman, the San Francisco Examiner reports.

McColl last year received a $1.25 million salary – up 25 percent from 1998 — and $2.5 million bonus, which was unchanged from a year earlier.

He also received stock awards and options valued at $71.9 million.

Ken Lewis, the bank’s president and chief operating officer and McColl’s heir apparent, received a compensation package totaling $44.5 million.

At the same time, the Examiner reports, the bank’s stock fell 16.5 million – a steeper decline than the industry standard – and the company eliminated more than 15,000 jobs.

At the end of the year, McColl was the highest paid bank executive among the top 10 that reported annual compensation.

Bob Gnaizda, general counsel and policy director for the Greenlining Institute, a multi-ethnic public policy and leadership center in San Francisco, said McColl’s package “is excessive and creates a bad iimage and is harmful to efficient cost-cutting for the bank.

Until now, he said, Bank of America had set a good example by balancing corporate philanthropy with its top executives’ pay scales.

But the company’s record no longer is stellar, he said.

The institute proposes that companies spend at least as much on philanthropy each year as the total of their top five executives’[ compensation packages,  including stock options and non-salary benefits such as bonuses and life insurance premiums.

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