Charity begins at home, they say; and companies are taking the adage to heart.
International companies are contributing to the betterment of the cities in which they do business, focusing on programs geared to improving health, sustainability, transportation, education, and even urban planning in metro areas.
There are several benefits to doing this: Of course there are tax breaks. Giving is also great PR. A Global CSR Study released this year by Cone Communications and Echo Research reports that 91 percent of global consumers are likely to switch to companies they associate with a good cause, as long as the companies offer competitive products and services.
It's vital to stay local. While many big corporate donors also support broader causes, the value of visible giving in a city where business is important not only builds revenue, it attracts employees and builds political equity within the community. Improving the home city means improving the business conducted there.
So which firms stand out in civic giving? It's a question that's been asked before. Last year, Bloomberg Businessweek created a list of "The Civic 50," naming companies distinguished according to several measures of civic engagement.
While that list is great, we at Future Cities examined the issue of civic-minded companies from our own perspective. We looked at some of the top corporate givers, then at the ones that gave the most to specific community causes.
We found that sometimes even the most generous companies don't focus specifically on urban problems, but the ones that do are achieving some impressive goals. In some cases, the firms are surprising sources of urban improvement. Who would associate some of the most disgraced financial companies on Wall Street (or Bay Street) to provide some of the most effective help for inner city education?
Without further ado, we present you with the following slideshow that lists, in alphabetical order, 10 companies whose civic charity tops the charts. Take a look, cheer or hoot us down, but make sure to let us know what you think!
Click the image below to roll the show.
Bank of America
Through the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, the bank makes community development a central goal of its grant programs. It awarded over $200 million to various community and neighborhood causes in 2012, including $22 million in grants up to $200,000 to 650 non-profits that address housing needs in the US. The photo shows the bank's controversial NYC tower, which does not cast a shadow over its generosity.
(Source: JetSharkLambo, via Wikimedia)
— Mary Jander , Managing Editor, UBM's Future Cities