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CECP data offer a unique look at social investments before and after 2020

By André Solórzano, Senior Manager, Data Insights

The 2020 edition of Giving in Numbers is here! As always, this year’s report covers trends in corporate social investment and includes a brand-new section on corporate purpose.

Given the rapidly changing state of the world during 2020, CECP took steps to ensure that Giving in Numbers data was supported with real-time insights by increasing the frequency of CECP Pulse Surveys.

Looking back at what and how companies gave in 2019, coupled with what we heard from those same companies through weekly pulse surveys, CECP has created a unique look at where company strategies might be headed. Here’s what we found:

Community Investment Budgets:

According to Giving in Numbers, total community investments increased by 7% between 2017 and 2019. The Health Care industry was again this year the main driver of this increase in contributions.

A CECP Pulse Survey in early April 2020 showed that 47% of companies stated that their 2020 community investment budgets had already increased or would increase due to Covid-19 response. A following Pulse Survey in early May 2020showed that despite initial increases in 2020 budgets, 64% of companies’ budgets would at least remain the same in 2021, and 18% of surveyed companies stated their 2021 budgets would increase compared to 2020.

Corporate Purpose Embedded throughout the Company:

According to Giving in Numbers, seven out of ten companies reported that most or almost all employees would know their company’s corporate purpose. Giving in Numbers data showed that the communication of corporate purpose may follow a top-down processing from corporate leaders: 84% of companies perceived that their C-Suite executives would frequently or very frequently refer to their company’s corporate purpose in documents, emails, meetings, or plans, whereas only 66% of companies reported that employees perceive middle management to do the same.

Moreover, corporate purpose statements are not totally a new corporate matter. A CECP Pulse Survey showed that 62% of surveyed companies created or most recently changed their corporate purpose statement in the last 5 years. Nineteen percent have had a corporate purpose statement for more than 5 years, 13% declared that changes were currently under consideration (July 2020), and only a very small percentage of companies (6%) had no corporate purpose statement.

A shift in employee giving:

Matching gifts decreased: the overall median dollar value of matching gifts decreased by 18% between 2017 and 2019. Reasons may include that teams may be communicating/ encouraging matching-gift programs less than they used to; another factor may be budget reductions. Year-Round Policy was the only matching-gift program that increased its median cash contributions in the last three years.

Specifically, when surveyed about their company’s matching gift programs related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; only 9% of surveyed companies in a July Pulse Survey stated they would increase matching gift ratios/caps; 27% would open up nonprofit/causes eligibility; whereas 60% would have no change.

International Giving is on the Rise:

International giving grew by 49%, signaling greater focus on international end-recipients across multi-billion-dollar companies represented in Giving in Numbers.

An example of this was displayed in a CECP Pulse Survey in January 2020 which showed that seven of ten companies headquartered mostly in the US, had made or were planning to make monetary donations towards the Australian bush fires.

Volunteer participation remains strong, driven by time flexibility:

The average volunteer participation rate has remained steady in the last three years, rising only from 30.6% to 32%. Volunteer participation rates increase when employees have access to more flexible volunteering opportunities. There is an increasing trend of companies offering both Paid-Release Time and Flexible Scheduling, so employees can decide whether they volunteer on or outside company time.

Companies had to adjust their volunteering practices in 2020. A CECP Pulse Survey carried out in October 2020 showed that more than half of companies provide Virtual Volunteering opportunities to their employees using nonprofit partners they are already working with. Alternatively, 23% of companies decide to use other organizations to coordinate this type of volunteering (e.g., Points of Light, Taproot, Volunteer Match etc.). A smaller group (6%) provides Virtual Volunteering through software/management tools (e.g., Benevity, YourCause/Blackbaud).

Volunteered hours increased, driven by access to hours away from work to volunteer:

The most common number of hours offered annually for volunteering was eight. The total number of hours volunteered both on and outside company time increased by 26% in the last three years.

Some companies adopted non-traditional volunteering opportunities as outlets for employees to support their communities. A July CECP Pulse survey found that while most companies have not been tracking volunteer programs that directly promote employees’ civic engagement (peaceful marches, helping people register to vote) or acts of kindness (doing groceries for their elderly neighbors or making calls to check on their health), there is a significant percentage (28%) that tracks and encourages this type of volunteering.

Measuring Social Outcomes remains a priority:

Giving in Numbers respondents reported that their companies’ measurement of social outcomes and impacts continued to rise and continued to be applied mostly to strategic programs. A similar proportion of companies measure the business value of community investments through employee metrics (40%) and brand/customer metrics (38%).

During the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020, a CECP Pulse Survey found that more than half of companies already have or are in the process of measuring the monetary value of unique Covid-19 efforts.

Many are the challenges that the corporate sector will continue to face in the upcoming year 2021 but we are certain that corporate leadership, the resiliency and the good will of employees will continue to support communities all over the world. CECP will be here to support your efforts.

Finally, we want to thank all companies that made Giving in Numbers: 2020 Edition possible despite the circumstances. This report would not be possible without the support of our sponsors Citi Foundation, Newman’s Own Foundation, Prudential Financial, Inc., PwC US, The Travelers Companies, Inc., and USAA.


Thank you!!