Cash donations from large U.S. corporations to charitable causes increased 2 percent in 2015, driven largely by gifts from financial and pharmaceutical companies, a survey by the Chronicle of Philanthropy finds.
The sixty-eight corporations surveyed by the Chronicle donated a total of $4.9 billion in 2015, with sixteen of those companies contributing more than $100 million each. Pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences topped the list with nearly $447 million in total giving, followed by Walmart ($301 million), Wells Fargo ($281 million), Goldman Sachs ($276 million), and ExxonMobil ($268 million). Pharmaceutical companies also topped the list of in-kind givers, with Pfizer providing $3.1 billion worth of its products, followed by Gilead Sciences ($1.9 billion) and Merck ($1.7 billion).
The survey also found that while the median share of pre-tax profits donated was 1 percent, a handful of companies did far more, with General Mills giving 7 percent, Chevron 5 percent, and Nationwide and Xerox each giving 4 percent. Financial institutions, which accounted for five of the top ten cash donors, all were parties to billion-plus dollar federal settlements for their role in the financial crisis, the Chronicle reports, and appear to be eager to use their charitable activities to imporve their standing with the public.
"The financial crisis created a moment in time where people questioned the value of banks in our society," Brandee McHale, president of the Citi Foundation, told the Chronicle. "We’re working hard to not only communicate but to demonstrate proof points of how a strong financial system is a critical piece of a thriving economy and society."