Philanthropy is no longer the sole responsibility of individuals. Increasingly, corporations are embedding into their strategic plans, corporate responsibility objectives. These objectives include financial gifts, in-kind contributions, and employee volunteer hours.

2017 Was a Banner Year for Corporate Philanthropy

The Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) was founded in 1999 by Paul Newman. Its membership includes 200 of the largest corporations in the world. According to their 2017 statistics, 60% of their members increased their giving in 2017. The median amount given also increased by 15% during the years 2015-2017. The final tally of corporate giving in 2017 among CECP members was $23.8 billion. The healthcare sector led the way, increasing their giving by 62%. It is expected that 2018 total will be even better, as most corporations reported that they intended to increase their philanthropic donations this year.

Fewer Grants and More Accountability

The total overall grants funded in 2017 fell by 22%, but the amount of funding to this smaller pool of grants increased by 19%. Corporations are looking for more accountability from grantees and measurable outcomes. Education continues to top the list of corporate giving, with a focus on improving k-12 educational outcomes. In second place was corporate giving to ongoing-emergencies, such as disaster assistance. Between the years 2015-2017, corporate giving to natural disasters increased by 306%. This is a testament to the number of devastating natural disasters that occurred in the United States during these years.

In-Kind Giving Increases

The value of in-kind donations is catching fire among corporations too. These non-cash contributions provide a level of sustainability for grantees, allowing them to expand their services to constituent groups. In 2017, 66% of reporting corporations made in-kind donations to philanthropic agencies. Healthcare, communications and consumer staples companies topped the list of corporations increasing their in-kind donations.

Employee Engagement

Increasingly, corporations are engaging their employees in actualizing their corporate responsibility objectives. Doing so increases the visibility of the corporation, helping non-profits and improving name recognition among consumers. Of companies surveyed, 93% reported that they had active employee volunteer programs in 2017. Companies also encourage their employees to be change agents themselves, allowing time off for volunteer activities and honoring individual donations through corporate matching programs.

Corporate Philanthropy Still Has Room to Grow

Even though the 2017 donation totals are encouraging, there is still much more progress to be made. The total number of corporations participating is still small, only 5% in 2017. The primary source of philanthropic donations continues to be individuals.

As corporations continue to become more global, coupled with the impact of social media on their reputations, we can expect to see an upward shift in corporate giving.