December marks the heart of the holiday season. Christmas parties, family gatherings and decking our halls with decorations are synonymous with the season. In the midst of all this merriment, millions of people find that an additional activity goes hand in hand with the holidays: giving. Giving of our time, funds, and resources to others who are less fortunate mark an important part of the holidays. What about businesses? In addition to office holiday parties, do businesses give back to their communities?
The frustrations of the past months put into the spotlight by the Occupy Wall Street protests, suggest that corporate America is one thing: greedy. Chants involving “the 99%” and “wealth distribution” have left a mark on corporate America’s arguably already tarnished image. For many, the holiday season represents a time of giving back to others. Despite corporate America’s blemished profile, many corporations give back millions of dollars each year.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy, a magazine that monitors the charitable giving industry, tracks donations from the largest corporations in the Untied States from the annual Fortune 500 list. The magazine reported that the most generous donor in 2010 was Kroger, with $64 million. Kroger, the largest grocery chain in America, was the only corporation to give more than 10% of its previous year profits to charity in 2010. The 2nd most generous was Macy’s totaling over $41 million dollars. In addition to hosting the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Macy’s provides over 1,000 grants to organizations in low-income communities where the giant retailor operates. The list continues with Safeway coming in 3rd, Dow Chemical taking 4th and Morgan Stanley taking 5th. So yes, many large companies do in fact give back to their community, quite generously!
Giving is not only important to large corporations, it is also important for 501(c)(3) companies, or tax-exempt non-profits, in a somewhat different way. Non-profit companies rely on donations, or giving, so that they may fulfill their charitable purpose, usually giving back to their community. In order to qualify, the company must be organized to use its revenues for a charitable purpose, rather than distributing them as profits or dividends.. None of the companies’ earnings may inure to a private shareholder or individual.
Most charitable organizations are allowed to receive tax-deductible contributions. Contributions over $75 dollars must be documented. For many non-profits, these tax-deductible contributions keep them in business. Think about companies like the Salvation Army and The Red Cross. They operate mainly on charitable donations and in some cases use social media to further the process. The Red Cross, for example, raised over five million dollars to support Haiti solely through text message!
The business community, both large corporations and small start-ups, are all, in some way, affected by charitable giving. Here at MyCorporation we encourage our employees to give back to the community through local canned food drives, and other seasonal programs. Take some time during your holiday celebrating and consider giving back to your community, or even your favorite non-profit. You know the saying, a little really does go a long way!