Bankruptcy May Force Kodak to Suspend Corporate Giving

A week after the Eastman Kodak Company announced that it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, many of the iconic company's grantees in the greater Rochester area are wrestling with the unthinkable, the Democrat and Chronicle reports.

Nonprofit organizations that received support from Kodak in the past will feel the effects of its bankruptcy filing in different ways. Groups that relied on contributions from the company to make ends meet are scrambling to rebalance their budgets. The Geva Theatre Center, for example, told the Democrat and Chronicle that Kodak was one of its biggest supporters and that it now has "a big hole" in its budget. Other organizations that had seen donations from the company dwindle over the last few years are better positioned to absorb the loss. "They've been very generous to us when they could," said Ruby Lockhart, executive director of Garth Fagan Dance. "We were very surprised to get anything at all last year, given their circumstances."

That sentiment was echoed by many nonprofits in the region. "Over the past few decades, Kodak's support [for nonprofits in the region] has totaled [in the] millions of dollars," said a spokeswoman for the United Way of Greater Rochester. Philip Lentini, vice president for business development and strategic marketing at Rochester Museum & Science Center, said that his organization received a $50,000 donation from the company in 1984, but that "there was a significant drop in the early 1990s to $40,000, then $30,000 from the mid-1990s to 2001. For the last six years, it has been $20,000."

While the company did not firmly declare whether it will suspend its corporate giving program, it's clear changes will be made as it works to pay back its creditors. "In the long term, reorganization is about making us a healthy and vibrant enterprise — one that could again continue our long tradition of supporting our communities," Kodak officials said in a statement released by the company. "During this process, however, we will be making some difficult choices and that includes a suspension of corporate philanthropy."

Karen Miltner. "Kodak Pulling Back on Corporate Philanthropy." Democrat & Chronicle 01/23/2012.