The new executive face of corporate giving

Some 40% of North American executives in charge of corporate giving are at director level, the majority report to a vice-president or senior vice-president and have a public affairs or PR background, a new report finds.

by The Conference Board
Last Updated: 23 Jul 2013

The factor most influencing corporate giving priorities in 2007 is aligning the giving program more closely with business needs, according to a report released by The Conference Board.

The report is based on a survey of 50 North American companies to ascertain the profile of the corporate contributions executive and the corporate giving challenges and priorities that their companies are facing in 2007.

Seventy-seven percent of the companies surveyed cited aligning more closely with business needs as the single most critical factor affecting their corporation's giving.

Other factors critical to corporate giving practices are limits on budgetary resources (58%); directions from the CEO and/or the Board (45%); and strengthening the brand (45%).

The three top management priorities are the relationship to the broader corporate citizenship agenda (mentioned by 72%); measurements of results and outcomes (63%); and volunteerism (61%).

The challenge of instituting global giving was mentioned most frequently as the single biggest new issue to be addressed in 2007.

The size of the business presence in a foreign market is the most important factor in determining international giving priorities (39%). Humanitarian needs were second at 29%; and opportunity for business growth in local market was third at 24%.

Asia is receiving the bulk of the attention as companies devote more resources to giving abroad, with particular attention devoted to China. There is much less interest in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East.

The two biggest changes in corporate giving programs observed since 2006 are the greater alignment of giving programs with the business and cuts in budget and staff.

According to Carolyn Cavicchio, Senior Research Associate for Global Corporate Citizenship at The Conference Board, "These survey results confirm what we've been hearing from our member companies. Companies are recognizing that their giving portfolios are not in alignment with the increasingly global nature of their businesses, and they're beginning to shift dollars into countries outside the U.S. This will have a significant impact on U.S.-based nonprofit organizations."

Some observations about corporate contributions executives based on the survey:

* Almost 40% are at the director level in their company.
* The majority (69%) report to a senior vice-president or vice-president.
* In addition to philanthropy, 70% are involved in community relations.
* A majority have been at their company for more than six years.
* A majority have been in the philanthropy field more than six years.
* Sixty-three percent have spent the bulk of their careers in the private sector.
* Most come from public affairs/PR or foundation backgrounds.

Corporate Giving Priorities and Challenges in 2007
Executive Action #238
The Conference Board

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