Corporate giving continues to rise

Charitable contributions by major corporations and their foundations increased to $10.2 billion in 2006, with pharmaceutical companies the top givers and health services the top beneficiary, a new study says.

Contributions at home and abroad from 189 major corporations and corporate foundations were up from $9.8 billion in 2005, says the Conference Board’s annual survey of corporate giving.

U.S. contributions from participating groups account for 62 percent, or $7.9 billion, of the estimated $12.72 billion in total corporate donations to U.S. charities in 2006, the study says.

While overseas giving grew to $2.3 billion, paralleling the growth of global business ventures, domestic corporate giving fell 6.3 percent in 2006 to $6.7 billion at 146 corporations and corporate foundations.

Median contributions abroad rose to $2.8 million in 2006 from $1.65 million in 2005, the study says.

Pharmaceutical companies were the top givers, with a median ratio of contributions to consolidated pre-tax income exceeding 7 percent, compared to the overall ratio of less than 1 percent.

Health and human services reaped the largest share of donations, the report says, but education is also gaining priority among corporate grantmakers.

The majority share of health and human services dropped for the first time in five years, falling 7.6 percent to 53.4 percent of 2006 grant dollars.

The study attributes the drop in part to a temporary refocusing of grantmakers’ attention to disaster-relief efforts in 2004 and 2005.

The share of donations directed toward education initiatives, on the other hand, rose to 17.8 percent in 2006, gaining 7.1 percentage points from 2005.

Non-cash gifts, such as real estate, equipment and company products, accounted for half of overall U.S. giving, the report says, continuing a four-year trend.

The Conference Board is a nonprofit membership and research organization serving corporations in the U.S. and abroad, with headquarters in New York and Brussels.

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