Are Milwaukee’s Corporate Donors Maxed Out?

Experts say your company should double its gifts to charity

weight lifter with head down on barbell and towel around his neck taking a breakContributed by AFPSEWI
Milwaukee Business Journal
September 28, 2018 issue

The $20.8 billion that American companies gave to charity last year sounds like a lot…until you consider their share was just 5 percent of the nation’s $410 billion in philanthropy.

So maybe it’s time to ask: are corporate donors maxed out?

Nope.  Uh-uh.  Negative.

That’s according to experts surveyed by the Chronicle of Philanthropy.  While individual donors give away an average of 2 percent of their disposable income, the Chronicle’s survey found corporations give just 1 percent of pre-tax earnings.  Regulations allow them to give up to 10 percent.

Curt Weeden, former head of corporate giving at Johnson and Johnson, says CEOs should be saying to themselves, “Well, hell, we can at least do 2 percent...”

What would get would-be corporate donors to open their wallets?  Nonprofits take heed:  Companies view donations as investments and want to see their ROI on paper and in person.  Before asking for support, you should begin with questions like “How does our mission align with your philanthropic goals?” and “Can we provide rewarding volunteer opportunities for your employees?” and “How can we work together to better our community?”

The economy is roaring; the Dow is setting records. Now would be the perfect time to build the capacities of nonprofits – who, as always, will bear the brunt of community needs when hard times come again.  Imagine the human ROI we’d see if companies would double their giving, to match the generosity of individual donors.

Which Milwaukee companies are philanthropic stars?  Two chances to find out:  check out Milwaukee Business Journal’s Corporate Citizenship Summit on October 26, then attend the National Philanthropy Day luncheon on November 13, where the Association of Fundraising Professionals will honor our community’s top philanthropic leaders.

On Philanthropy appears monthly in the Milwaukee Business Journal and is contributed by Ellen Wilkinson for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter.