Eight in 10 (85 per cent) Canadian companies have maintained or increased their community investment budgets despite the uncertain economic climate of the past five years, according to a survey by the Conference Board of Canada.
“The community investment sector in Canada appears to be largely recession-proof,” said Michael Bassett, senior research associate. “Corporate values and tradition, as well as reputation management, appear to be the main drivers of community investment programs.”
Thirty-nine per cent of the 180 respondents to the survey said their budget had increased compared to the previous year and 47 per cent said their budgets stayed the same. Only 14 per cent of respondents reported that their community investment budget had declined, found the Canadian Corporate Community Investment Benchmarking Report.
Over a five-year time frame, more than 50 per cent of respondents reported an upward trend in their community investment budgets. An additional 34 per cent reported that their community investments have remained constant in nominal dollars.
The participating companies contributed just over $710 million to communities in 2011. The most common recipients of community investment dollars are civic and community organizations (77 per cent), followed by health-care organizations (66 per cent), found the survey.
While many organizations make community investments, a few companies account for most of the contributions in Canada. According to the survey, 13 per cent of the responding companies contributed more than $10 million each in 2011, representing 72 per cent of the overall total.
Almost one-half of the survey respondents said that they had a program in which the company matched employee donations to the community or a specific charitable organization. These programs contributed $63 million to communities in 2011.
One factor that could explain the resilience of community investment budgets is the high level of interest of presidents and CEOs. Among responding firms, 69 per cent reported that their president and CEO was either very involved or extremely involved in the community investment program.
Thirty-eight per cent of respondents reported that their company has a signature community investment program. Signature programs tend to focus on an issue or groups of issues where the company feels it can align itself, while also working to make progress on this specific issue.
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