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Despite global uncertainties, companies are investing in society

by | Oct 30, 2017 | Public Relations

In the largest, industry-leading research of corporate social engagement, the world’s leading corporations are emphasizing strategy and outcomes more than ever—with 60 percent of companies allocating more resources to programs that align with their strategic social cause areas, according to new research from CECP: The CEO Force for Good, in partnership with The Conference Board.

The firms’ new report, Giving in Numbers, found that median total giving among all companies increased by 2.3 percent between 2014 and 2016, with pharmaceutical companies seeing the greatest increases in societal investments. Support for the arts and cultural programs is also on the rise, with corporate cash giving growing 48 percent in the last three years.

When measuring total giving, the top 25 percent of companies gave at least $53 million in 2016, or 1.70 percent of pre-tax profit. Median total giving in 2016 among all 258 respondents was $19 million (0.91 percent of pre-tax profit).

“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 Daryl Brewster, CEO of CECP, in a news release. “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.”

Despite global uncertainties, companies strengthen societal investment strategies

Key findings from this year’s survey include:

Total giving increased

Median total giving among all companies increased by 2.3% between 2014 and 2016.

Companies are seeking deeper partnerships

Looking to increase the impact of their grants to organizations, companies are working with fewer partners and decreasing the total number of grants, while enlarging the remaining grants. Six out of ten companies are allocating their giving resources into the program area they consider their strategic/signature program.

Measuring outcomes became a more widespread practice

Assessing societal impact or outcomes of corporate initiatives remains a prevalent practice among leading companies, and in 2016, 87% of companies measured the impact of at least one grant (up from 85% in 2014).

Support for culture and arts is on the rise

The data revealed that cash giving to culture and arts programs grew by 48% between 2014 and 2016, the most among all program areas. Multiple sources point to an increasing relevance of Culture and Arts among companies as a cause area, as well as the positive impact this program area has in the wellbeing of communities.

The health care industry made a big impact on aggregate total giving

Companies in the facilities/medical equipment subindustry accounted for three quarters of the aggregate decrease in total giving. On the other side, pharmaceutical companies drove the largest proportion of the aggregate total giving increase across industries.

“The findings from this year’s survey, along with other primary research conducted by CECP, confirms that social investments made by leading companies are doing more and doing better to ensure community stability and well-being,” said Carmen Perez, director of data insights at CECP, in the release. “For businesses looking to fine-tune, expand, or pursue effective social strategies, Giving in Numbers offers concise guidance and indispensable benchmarking.”

“A variety of recent events both natural and political have highlighted the importance of corporate giving,” said Jonathan Spector, CEO of The Conference Board, in the release. “It’s likely that importance will grow as climate change threatens more natural disasters and federal funding for important social causes, such as the arts, is put under a microscope. Although we’ve seen a slight increase in corporate giving in the past three years, data from the most recent 12 months suggests contributions are plateauing. Corporate giving teams need all the tools in their arsenal to advocate for higher budgets as nonprofits turn increasingly to companies for funding. Giving in Numbers is one of the most important tools available.”

Now in its 12th year, Giving in Numbers is the leading study on the funds, resources, and skills that companies invest globally to solve pressing societal challenges.

Download the report here.

CECP, a coalition of more than 200 of the world’s largest companies with a combined annual revenue of more than $7 trillion, released, in association with The Conference Board, Giving in Numbers: 2017 Edition, a report on the largest social engagement survey of 258 of the world’s largest companies.

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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