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Corporate giving earned a good report card in the first half of this decade. From 1979 to 1984, corporate contributions to charitable institutions jumped 65%, from $2.3 billion to $3.8 billion, outpacing inflation. Estimates put 1985 giving at 1984 levels. Since 1979, companies also significantly increased the percentage of profits they gave away, from 1.4% to 2.6% of net income on average.

But for many small companies, charity not only begins at home, it stays there. "The smaller a company is, the less likely it is to report any giving at all," says Hayden W. Smith, senior vice-president for research at the Council for Financial Aid to Education. His studies indicate that about a third of companies with less than $5 million in assets report contributions to the Internal Revenue Service, compared with over 90% of companies with assets of more than $1 billion.

But entrepreneurs who do give aren't stingy. "Of the companies that give, smaller ones tend to give a higher percentage [of pretax income] than larger companies," says Burt Knauft, executive vice-president of Independent Sector, an association of charities, foundations, and corporate donors. And, Smith notes, small closely held companies often give through the owner's personal account, rather than through the corporation. Here is the record of corporate giving from 1974 to 1984.

Total Gifts % Pretax % Net

Year ($ millions) Income Income

1974 $1,200 0.88% 1.41%

1975 1,202 0.91 1.47

1976 1,487 0.89 1.45

1977 1,791 0.92 1.47

1978 2,084 0.91 1.43

1979 2,288 0.91 1.39

1980 2,359 1.01 1.57

1981 2,514 1.14 1.80

1982 2,906 1.76 2.77

1983 3,300 (est.) 1.62 2.59

1984 3,800 (est.) 1.61 2.61

Source: The Conference Board, New York City

Last updated: Jun 1, 1986




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