The 2011 Corporate Contributions Report

Matteo Tonello is Managing Director of Corporate Leadership at The Conference Board, Inc. This post discusses a Conference Board report by Mr. Tonello and Judit Torok. For details regarding how to obtain a copy of the report, contact [email protected].

The 2011 Corporate Contributions Report, which was recently released by The Conference Board, discusses findings from a survey of 139 U.S.–based corporations conducted between April and July 2011. Participants in the survey (chief financial officers, corporate sustainability officers, heads of public affairs) were asked to provide information on the domestic and international (cash and non-cash) charitable contributions made directly by their companies or through their corporate foundations in FY2010.

To enable its practical use for peer-comparison purposes, the information in the report is organized by the size of contributions programs, ten industry groups and three business types (whether B2B, B2C or hybrid companies). The study also provides benchmarking ratios (such as contributions per employee, contributions as a percentage of pretax income and of annual sales), data on the geographic allocation of international charity and insight on program beneficiaries. The report contains data comparisons with FY2008.

The following are some of the major findings from the 2011 edition of the study:

  • The vast majority (83.3 percent) of total FY2010 contributions in the survey sample were made by the 25 companies with the largest giving budgets—budgets totaling $50 million or more.
  • Contributions budgets ranged from a low of $5,000 per company to a high of $2.11 billion.
  • Once again, the pharmaceutical sector substantially outpaced all other industry categories, with a median amount of $10,463 per worldwide employee (the median for FY2008 was $8,690), primarily due to a high level of non-cash contributions.
  • The median contribution per worldwide employee amounted to $543 (compared to $570 in FY2008).
  • Total contributions as a median percentage of consolidated pretax income were 0.81 percent in FY2010, down from 1 percent in FY2008. Total contributions as a percentage of worldwide sales were 0.1 percent in FY2010, a level substantially equal to the 0.12 percent reported in FY2008.
  • Direct cash contributions accounted for 85.78 percent of the total international giving, while only 6.44 percent of international giving was non-cash.
  • The majority of international contributions (88.3 percent) were made from U.S. headquarters rather than local or regional business units.
  • Humanitarian needs and the size of the company’s workforce in the local market tied at 63.8 percent as the top drivers of international funding decisions.
  • Projections for FY2011 show no meaningful overall increase in corporate giving. The only exception emerges in the industry analysis, where the services sector anticipates a 5 percent median increase in cash international contributions.
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