Developed by CECP, in association with The Conference Board, Giving in Numbers: 2016 Edition is based on data from 272 companies. This report not only presents a profile of corporate philanthropy and employee engagement in 2015, but also includes a Trends Summary that highlights the prominent features of corporate societal investment. This is the eleventh annual report on trends in corporate giving. 

Key findings for 2015:

  • Business performance is tied to social responsibility: Companies that increased total giving by at least 10% between 2013 and 2015 saw increases in median giving as a percentage of revenue and pre-tax profit, as opposed to all other companies that instead saw decreases in both metrics. Companies with a stronger sense of purpose also had stronger financial and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) metrics. 
  • Bigger Budgets: Total giving grew slightly with nearly half (47%) of companies in a three-year matched set between 2013 and 2015 reporting an increase in median total giving—by 1%.
  • Elevation of roles and responsibilities: With companies seeing the bottom-line benefits of adding resources to the community engagement office, corporate giving teams are not only expanding (full-time equivalent employees rose 3% from 2013 to 2015), but their prominence within the company is rising, with 29% of teams reporting closer alignment with the CEO’s office. Further, teams are being called on to share materially significant data: 56% of companies say their corporate citizenship department provided ESG information to a particular investor or the company’s investor relations department.
  • Employees and customers seeking out new ways to give back through the company and the brand: Employee volunteer participation rate with their company’s community efforts continued to rise to 33% in 2015 from 28% in 2013. Additionally, about half of companies saw building trust with consumers and other stakeholders as a goal of their societal engagement programs. Fifty-five percent of companies used increased trust (e.g., Edelman Trust Barometer, Nielsen Global Consumer Confidence Survey, etc.) as a benchmark of success for their community investments.

Additional Learnings:

  • Measuring societal outcomes and/or impacts became a more widespread practice: Demonstrating impact and transparency is critical for companies, and as such 87% of companies measured societal outcomes and/or impacts of at least one grant in 2015, up from 79% in 2013. Most commonly, companies focused their measurement efforts on strategic programs.
  • Investing with purpose goes along with societal engagements: Companies that took part in impact investing supported community programs more overall. Median total giving for companies active with impact investing was more ($25.7 million) than that given by those not active in impact investing ($15 million).
  • Philanthropic Leverage, a component of “good beyond giving,” is on the rise: Philanthropic Leverage, which refers to the average monetary contributions from employees and non-employees, has increased in the last three years. Philanthropic Leverage is also a component of “good beyond giving” (socially driven corporate activities that are additive to total giving). Companies with higher growth rates of total giving were also the ones with higher Philanthropic Leverage growth rates.

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