Corporate giving rises despite economy

As the economy weakened and American companies struggled to keep earnings up, U.S. corporations gave more to charity last year than in 2006, new research says.

Contributions from large multi-national corporations grew 5.6 percent to a median $26.05 million in 2007 from $24.67 million 2006, says the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy.

Almost two-thirds of companies that reported their contributions for both years showed an increase in donations, while a third cut back.

And many companies that stumbled financially in 2007 continued to give, with more than half of the companies whose profits dropped increasing their giving, as did seven of the eight companies that reported negative earnings.

Despite the bleak outlook for 2008, the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy is anticipating most companies will maintain their 2007 giving levels and believes some will revamp their giving to help those most affected by the poor economy.

Almost nine in 10 corporate CEOs surveyed say it is important to have plans in place to continue contributions during periods of poor financial performance.

“Historically, companies have made strong commitments to respond during periods of higher unemployment and elevated community need,” Charles Moore, the group’s executive director, says in a statement.

When times are hard, companies often find creative ways to leverage non-cash contributions, such as providing product donations or pro-bono services, he says.

Executives also realize the importance customers and employees place on a company’s commitment to philanthropy and corporate citizenship, the report says.

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