Sour economy threatens Canadian corporate giving

Wed Nov 12, 2008 12:14am EST
 
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Deepening economic gloom threatens to slash Canadian corporate giving at a time demand for charity is likely to rise, the authors of a study on business philanthropy said on Wednesday.

The outlook comes amid rising evidence that the global financial crisis rocking markets and slamming company earnings is also cutting deeply into aid for the world's poor.

"We're entering turbulent economic times and we're hoping that companies don't forget the benefits of charitable giving," said Michael Hall, vice president of research for charity advocacy group Imagine Canada.

The group's report showed nearly all of Canada's large companies routinely donated to charity between 2006 and 2007, with at least half of them giving away 1 percent or more of their profits.

The report also showed that some 79 percent of the 93 big Canadian companies surveyed -- including Encana and Manulife -- believed they could benefit from their own charitable giving programs.

"We're relying on that to continue in order to get us through these difficult times," Hall said. "Charities are already coping with an increase in demand for aid, and they're going to be facing trouble on all sides."

Food Banks Canada said in late October that corporate donations had dropped off by 25 percent since summer, raising the risk of food bank shortages over the winter.

Hall said he thinks companies can benefit from charity programs by adding to the economic health of the markets they rely on and by strengthening their brands.

"You need the good will of citizens for your company to be successful," he said.

(Reporting by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Peter Galloway)