More Companies Emphasize Strategy and Outcomes in Giving, Report Finds

More Companies Emphasize Strategy and Outcomes in Giving, Report Finds

Despite increasing global uncertainty, the world's largest corporations are emphasizing strategy and outcomes more than ever, an annual report from CECP and the Conference Board finds.

Based on a survey of more than two hundred of the world's largest corporations, the report, Giving in Numbers: 2017 Edition (48 pages, PDF), found that between 2014 and 2016 median total giving among all companies in the survey rose by 2.3 percent. According to the report, 25 percent of the companies surveyed gave at least $53 million in 2016, or an average of 1.70 percent of their pre-tax profits. Median total giving in 2016 among all 258 respondents was $19 million, or 0.91 percent of pre-tax profit.

The survey also found that 60 percent of companies are looking to increase the impact of their grants in their signature program areas. To that end, companies are working with fewer partners and awarding fewer but larger grants, while measuring outcomes to assess the societal impact of corporate initiatives is becoming a more widespread practice. In 2016, 87 percent of companies measured the impact of at least one grant (up from 85 percent in 2014).

According to Giving in Numbers, support for arts and culture programs grew by 48 percent between 2014 and 2016 — the largest increase among all program areas — and multiple data sources point to the increased relevance of the arts among companies and for the well-being of communities. The healthcare industry also had a significant impact on aggregate total giving, but while pharmaceutical companies drove the largest proportion of that giving, companies in the facilities/medical equipment subsector accounted for three-quarters of the aggregate decline in total giving.

"This past year has been marked by unprecedented global challenges and widespread uncertainty, yet the business community has once again stepped up on critical issues," said CECP chief executive Daryl Brewster. "Giving in Numbers shares vital data and trends on how leading companies are effectively addressing social issues, from the arts to social services, and plots a course for corporations playing a role in standing up for their varied stakeholders."