Canadian Manufacturing

Community and charity support strong in corporate Canada: study

The survey findings suggest estimates of corporate giving significantly under-report the scale of corporate community investment in Canada.

Ottawa—Canadian companies have maintained or increased their community investment budgets despite the uncertain economic climate of the past five years, according to The Conference Board of Canada’s first-ever national survey of corporate community investment activity.

“The community investment sector in Canada appears to be largely recession-proof,” said Michael Bassett, senior research associate. “Approximately 85 per cent of companies maintained or increased their community investment programs. Corporate values and tradition, as well as reputation management, appear to be the main drivers of community investment programs.”

The survey found 39 per cent of the 180 respondents had increased their budget compared to the previous year, and 47 per cent said their budgets stayed the same. Only 14 per cent of respondents reported that their community investment budget had declined.

Over a five-year time frame, about half of respondents reported an upward trend in their community investment budgets. An additional 34 per cent reported that their community investments have remained constant.

One factor that could explain the resilience of community investment budgets is the high level of interest of presidents and Chief Executive Officers. Among responding firms, 69 per cent reported that their president and CEO was either very involved or extremely involved in the community investment program.

Here are some highlights of the Conference Board of Canada study:

  • The 180 companies who completed this survey contributed just over $710 million to communities in 2011.
  • Civic and community organizations are the most likely recipients of this money.
  • Almost half of the respondents had a program matching employee donations to the community or a specific charitable organization. These programs contributed $63 million to communities in 2011.

While many organizations make community investments, a few companies account for most of the contributions in Canada. According to the survey, 13 per cent of the responding companies contributed more than $10 million each in 2011, representing 72 per cent of the overall total.

Thirty-eight per cent of respondents reported that their company has a signature community investment program. Signature programs tend to focus on an issue or groups of issues where the company feels it can align itself, while also working to make progress on this specific issue.

The Canadian Corporate Community Investment Benchmarking Report is a national survey of community investment professionals. This survey took a broad approach to community investment, including corporate support of community initiatives and company employees’ contributions.

The 180 responding firms respondents employ almost 1 million people, or six per cent of the Canadian workforce. The majority of responses were provided by large companies with more than 500 employees.

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