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Corporate Giving by the Numbers

December 3, 2012

The Conference Board and the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) recently issued a joint report on corporate giving in 2011, which included an in-depth analysis of 2011 corporate giving data from 214 leading companies, including 62 of the top 100 companies in the Fortune 500. American Express participated in this survey as we have every year for many years.

Some highlights from that report:

Total Giving. Total giving as a percentage of pre-tax income ranged from an average of .92 percent for Fortune 100 companies to .95 percent for all companies to .99 percent for non-Fortune100 companies. Total cash giving as a percentage of pre-tax income ranged from .67 percent for Fortune 100 companies to .75 percent for all companies to .84 percent for non-Fortune 100 companies. (American Express was about average for Fortune 100 companies.)

Structure. Most companies surveyed have corporate foundations (82 percent), and the most common structure for these foundations is a "pass-through" model where the company annually funds the foundation and 100 percent of those funds (or a very large percentage) are distributed in the form of grants to not-for-profit organizations the same year. (American Express essentially uses this same model.) The typical company distributes 46 percent of its contributions through direct corporate grants, 35 percent through foundation grants and 19 percent as non-cash (or in-kind gifts).

Gift Matching. Most companies surveyed also have employee gift matching programs where companies match donations of money or volunteer time to eligible not-for-profit organizations. In 2011, 83 percent of surveyed companies offered at least one gift matching program. On average, 12 percent of a company's total cash giving goes to gift matching programs. (American Express has gift matching programs in the United States, Canada, India and the U.K., and combined they make up a larger percentage of the American Express philanthropy budget than the average.)

Volunteers. Most companies have employee volunteer programs that enable employees to volunteer under their employer's sponsorship. In 2011, 85 percent of companies had a formal U.S.-based volunteer program, and 47 percent had a formal international program. The most frequent offered programs in the U.S. were "Dollars for Doers" programs (i.e., small grants to support employee volunteer efforts), Company-wide Day of Service and Paid-Release Time. (American Express has a formal global volunteer program called Serve2Gether as well as a "Dollars for Doers" program in the U.S. called Serve2Gether Grants. We provide release time for our employees to volunteer in their communities.)

International Programs. Companies gave an average of 14 percent of their global philanthropy budgets to programs outside the United States in 2011. Manufacturing companies did more – approximately 25 percent—and service companies gave less – about 7 percent. (American Express giving internationally was consistent with the average company.)

The entire report is available on the CECP web site at

If you have a comment or question, please share it here.

P.S. Did you know that Health, Education and Economic Development were the top three priorities for corporate giving in 2011 – as they have been for many years?

P.P.S. Because of business travel the week of December 3, there won't be a CSR Now! posting on December 10. We will resume publishing on December 17.


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