Trends in corporate giving: year-over-year model helps execs make a difference.

Author:Colby, Nicole A. Bonham
Position:SPECIAL SECTION: Corporate 100--Philanthropy

Despite the country still reeling from its recent recession, many companies have not slowed down in their creative efforts to give locally to their clients and customers. Alaska operators are no exception. From in-kind donations of equipment to local schools, to high dollar corporate financial gifts to regional universities, or even sponsorship of cultural heritage preservation efforts, Alaska's corporate operators make giving a part of their culture.

The unusual efforts of one land-services company serving the oil and gas industry is indicative of a growing trend toward substituting gifts of philanthropic social responsibility--donated in the name of the recipient client or customer--instead of a more traditional, tangible gift over the holidays.

In the case of the land-services company, the owner chose to give each of its largest clients a "Gift Ark" from Heifer International, a seventy-year-old Arkansas-based charitable-aid provider founded by a Midwest farmer who sought to send livestock to the world's poorest regions. It was his belief that providing tools and skills, such as farming, can make a long-term difference. The Ark package includes two of several types of local livestock, as well as bees, chicks, rabbits, and the like. Given in the name of the gift recipient, the collection of livestock itself goes to a needy community. The concept is designed to care for an impoverished community, to provide ongoing income opportunities for its people, and to encourage sustainable farming worldwide.

A drastic departure from a case of champagne, a luxury pen set, or expensive dinner party, such gifts reflect the trend toward increased non-cash corporate giving with a philanthropic flair.

Non-Cash Gifts Increase

Such trends are analyzed in the national report, "Giving in Numbers: 2013 Edition," which offers senior executives a tool to analyze and grow their own companies' corporate giving programs. The annual benchmark publication is developed each year by the business research association The Conference Board in partnership with the organization CECP, which was formed in 1998 by Paul Newman and business leaders John C. Whitehead, Peter L. Malkin, Walter Shipley and others, originally known as the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy. With a current membership of about 180 CEOs and chairpersons from companies that represent some $10 billion in annual corporate giving, the organization's mission is to help companies directly affect...

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