A Different Take

By Katy Moore
Director of Corporate Strategy

Yesterday, the Chronicle of Philanthropy released the results of its annual giving survey of the 150 largest companies in the U.S. The article’s title, Corporate Profits Surge but Cash Donations Creep Up Only 3%, paints a negative picture of the generosity of the American corporate sector. However, if you read through the article or glance at the handy infographic (see below), you’ll realize that, in fact, ALL corporate giving numbers climbed from 2012 to 2013. And, the “surging profits” mentioned in the title are a mere 5% while corporate cash donations grew by nearly 3% (totaling $4.6 billion). Further, when both cash and products are counted, corporate giving rose by over 17% (totaling $14.1 billion). Why, then, is the Chronicle bent on painting the corporate world in such a negative light?

While we all acknowledge that cash giving is an important element of corporate social responsibility (nonprofits can’t pay employees or keep the lights on without cash contributions), so too is using all of a company’s resources to support the social profit sector, including donating products (like Walmart giving more than $2 billion in food over the last 5 years to fight hunger) and donating employees’ time and skills through pro bono, volunteerism, and board service (as illustrated by the wildly successful Billion+Change initiative)..

With the field of corporate social responsibility growing and evolving, it is safe to say that the ways that companies support their communities will also continue to evolve. And, so far, what I’m seeing, unlike the Chronicle, is definitely a CSR glass that is more than half full.


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