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Corporate giving inches up in 2007

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Perhaps foreshadowing the coming recession, donations to charity by corporations and their affiliated foundations grew slowly in 2007, a new study says.

Among survey participants that responded both in 2006 and 2007, giving grew by 1.9 percent during the year, says the 2008 Corporate Contributions Report from the Conference Board.

However, the growth was enough to outpace corporate profits, which grew 1.3 percent during the same period.

The 197 U.S.-based companies that participated in the survey donated a total of $10.97 billion in 2007, with $8.6 billion of that staying in the U.S. and $2.3 million directed overseas.

The 38 companies with giving programs of at least $50 million donated a total of $9.1 million in 2007.

While companies of that size represent about two in 10 of the companies surveyed, they donated more than eight in 10 of the dollars granted.

Overall, corporations gave a median $542 per employee to charity in 2007, up by $93 over 2006.

But the median contribution as a percentage of pretax income fell to 0.76 percent from 0.81 percent over the same period.

The pharmaceutical industry was the largest overall U.S. contributor in 2007, awarding a total of $3.84 billion in cash and in-kind contributions. Banks led the pack in U.S. cash contributions, awarding a total of $714 million.

Both domestic and international giving is expected to be flat in 2008, the report says.

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