Big-Business Philanthropy Up 4% in 2011

Worries about the economy will keep charitable giving flat in 2012: Chronicle of Philanthropy

Walmart donated the most cash in 2011. (Photo: AP) Walmart donated the most cash in 2011. (Photo: AP)

The largest U.S. businesses increased their charitable giving by a tepid 4% in 2011 and seem unlikely to pick up the pace in 2012, according to a new Chronicle of Philanthropy study of 166 large companies.

Last year’s growth compared unfavorably with the 13% rise from 2009 to 2010, when companies experienced a sharp rebound in post-recession profits, The Chronicle said.

Some three-quarters of corporate leaders in the study anticipated their philanthropy budgets would be about the same this year because of concerns about the economy. Twenty-seven percent said they would give more, while 2% would donate less.

Among other findings:

  • Walmart gave the most cash—$342 million—along with $617 million in products.
  • Thirteen companies donated more than $100 million in cash, compared with 11 in 2010. The 10 companies that gave the most cash last year were Walmart, Goldman Sachs, ExxonMobil, Wells Fargo, Chevron, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Target, General Electric and Citigroup.
  • Five companies increased their giving by more than 50%, led by Starbucks, whose donations grew by 197%.
  • Donations of products are growing at a faster rate than cash. In 2011, overall corporate giving rose by nearly 15% when both cash and products are counted. Pfizer donated the most cash and products ($3.1 billion), followed by Oracle ($2.3 billion).
  • Alcoa gave the biggest share of its profits in cash to charity (6.2%), followed by Merck & Co. (4.2%). However, the median donation was 1%.
  • Four companies in the survey lost money in 2010 but still gave to charity last year: Bank of America, Caesars Entertainment, First Data Corp. and Office Depot.
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