Cultural, Economic Factors Shape Corporate Philanthropy, Study Finds

Corporate giving vehicles, strategies, and geographic focus differ by region of the globe based on cultural and economic factors such as an emphasis on productivity or a tradition of informal volunteering, a study by CECP finds.

Based on data from fifty-four companies representing $3.6 billion in cash and non-cash giving across seventeen countries in Asia, Europe, Latin America, and Africa, the report, Giving Around the Globe: 2014 Edition (20 pages, PDF), found that total giving per employee was highest among corporations headquartered in Asia, at $680, while giving as a percentage of revenue was highest among European companies, which also had the highest rate of international giving (91 percent), although they were less likely than Asian or Latin American companies to offer employee pro bono programs.

In contrast, while 33 percent of Latin American firms offered pro bono programs, only 17 percent had matching gift or volunteering programs, despite heavy internal investments in large corporate giving and community support teams. The study also found that companies in Africa, where corporate social investment is synonymous with community development, were more likely to partner with government and for-profit businesses. None of the surveyed companies headquartered in Africa gave internationally, a reflection perhaps of more pressing domestic social needs.

The report also highlights engagement by North American companies in each of the four regions, including the percentage of firms giving and aggregate giving in key countries — which was highest in the United Kingdom, Mexico, China, India, and South Africa. Based on its findings, the study offers recommendations for evaluating and enhancing a global business's social investment programs and strategies.

"In our second year of the Giving Around the Globe report, one of the most compelling trends we see is the move by emerging markets to mandate CSR investment by operating businesses," said Carmen Perez, manager of measurement and standards at CECP and the report's author. "India, Brazil, and Indonesia have all enacted mandatory CSR investment by companies operating within their borders. These mandates create massive opportunities in the recipient countries for real societal progress, when met strategically and authentically by companies."