Budget concerns are not setting this year’s corporate philanthropic agenda

This week the Conference Board, a nonprofit that bills itself as global business research and membership association, released the results of an annual survey which indicates that corporate planning for community involvement has moved out of crisis mode and into a recovery mindset.

According to the press release, the report — The 2010 Philanthropy Agenda: Is the Pressure Easing? — is based on responses from 114 companies to a December 2009-January 2010 survey about planned changes to their corporate giving programs.

“Last year, due to the recession, it was all about cuts,” says Carolyn Cavicchio, senior research associate, Global Corporate Citizenship, The Conference Board. “This year, the dollar spend for contributions has continued to decline, but at a far less accelerated pace.”

More than three-quarters of respondents said that they would make no recession-driven changes to their 2010 corporate giving programs. Strategic priorities such as aligning more closely with business needs, rather than economic concerns, are driving priority-setting in contributions.

Twenty percent of companies said they would reduce their giving budgets in 2010, compared with 53 percent in 2009. In addition, only four percent of companies plan to reduce the size of their giving staff, compared with 18 percent in 2009.

As in 2009, most companies surveyed are increasing the resources devoted to volunteerism programs, and event sponsorship will see the most decreases.

In terms of focus areas, international development, STEM education (science, technology, engineering and math) and environment/sustainability will see the greatest resource increases. Capital campaigns and arts/culture will lose the most.

Other key findings:

  • Just six percent of companies surveyed plan to reduce their contributions-related administrative budgets, compared with 34 percent last year.
  • Only 11 percent of those surveyed said their companies would make fewer grants in 2010, compared with 34.8 percent in 2009.
  • Only eight percent said they would make smaller grants, compared with 20.9 percent last year.

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