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US corporate philanthropy increased in 2007, says new report

Corporate philanthropy by multinational US businesses increased by 5.6% in 2007 according to new research by the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP). The international forum of business CEOs and chairpersons claims that donating shot up to a median of $26 million among the 155 companies it surveyed.

Highlighting the growing importance of philanthropy to long-term shareholder value, many cited a shift towards funding new strategic focus areas, as well as an increased level of senior management attention to community investment.

Significantly, the weakening economy did not seem to play a major role for most companies' giving in 2007. A separate poll conducted by CECP found that 83% of CEOs attribute little importance to the economy when determining their corporate cash contributions. A further 89% agreed with the statement: "Companies should have mechanisms in place (eg, cash reserves or endowed foundations) to sustain contributions during periods of weak financial performance."

With this in mind CECP is projecting that, despite an apparent earnings slowdown in 2008, most companies will likely maintain 2007 levels of giving in 2008, with some expected to increase or restructure their budgets to reach community partners most strongly impacted by the economy.

Family business owners are to the fore in CECP. Actor and philanthropist Paul Newman (pictured), who spoke exclusively to Families in Business last year about his philanthropy, co-founded CECP. Harold McGraw III, president and CEO of the McGraw-Hill Companies is CECP's chairman, while both Alan G Hassenfeld, chairman of Hasbro, and Marilyn Carlson Nelson, chairman of Carlson sit on the board of directors.

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