Corporate Giving Still Robust

October 13, 2004 ( - Companies are opening their corporate pocketbooks a good bit wider to contribute to worthy causes, according to new research.

The Conference Board found that total contributions among US corporations and foundations were up 24% in 2003 over the year before, SmartPros reported.

Among companies and corporate foundations that provided budget projections for 2004, Conference Board researchers said they anticipate that companies with budgets in excess of $50 million will increase their US non-cash contributions by 3% and their international cash contributions by 2%. All other cash and non-cash budgets generally are expected to stabilize from 2003 to 2004.

In the matched sample in the latest report, corporate giving among companies and corporate foundations rose to $3.88 billion in 2003 from approximately $3.13 billion in 2002. Median matched-case US contributions amounted to $7.4 million, compared to $6.6 million in 2002, an increase of 12.88%. Average US giving among these matched cases increased by 24% from $23.35 million in 2002 to $28.97 million in 2003.

In addition, total US giving from 232 of the largest US companies and US corporate foundations surveyed by The Conference Board amounted to $5.73 billion in 2003. This represents 42.5% of the overall estimated $13.46 billion in corporate charitable giving in the US in 2003.

Corporate US giving ranged from a low of $50,000 to a high of $568 million, with median US contributions at $4.6 million compared to $4.7 million in 2002, a decline of 1.3%.

Support for health and human services maintained its position as a top priority in corporate contributions by garnering approximately 41% of the US contributions budget.   Pharmaceutical companies were the top donors in the US, while other top industries include computers and technology; food, beverage and tobacco; and banks.

“The pharmaceutical industry has emerged as the largest industry giver in the US, with eight pharmaceutical companies being responsible for a third of the $5.7 billion in 2003 giving tracked by The Conference Board,” said Sophia Muirhead, Senior Research Associate at The Conference Board and author of the report. “This is a clear manifestation of the industry’s corporate citizenship commitment to support causes related to health and human services.”

In keeping with historical trends, the majority of contributions made by pharmaceutical companies consisted of non-cash donations.


Among companies that maintain corporate foundations, more than half (53.2%) made gifts to their foundations in 2003, down from 91% in 2002. While individual gifts varied widely in size (from a low of $10,250 to a high of $118.3 million), the median value of these gifts was $4.3 million, up from $4 million in 2002.

The Conference Board’s 2003 survey of corporate contributions was conducted via e-mail and mail between February and June 2004. The study compared 134 corporations and foundations between 2002 and 2003.