Connecticut businesses make significant charitable contributions to their communities according to a new survey released today.

The 2015 Corporate Giving Survey found that 85% of surveyed companies contribute time and/or money to local charities, while 59% donate company products and services.

2015giving1Forty-two percent coordinate community events and 22% offer their employees incentives for participating in charitable activities.

And, while 56% of responding companies have held steady on their charitable contributions, 65% say they typically do more when the economy is strong and their company is growing.

“While Connecticut businesses have continued their tradition of charitable giving during a slow economic recovery, nearly two-thirds say they do even more when their business is thriving,” said Bonnie Stewart, CBIA vice president of government affairs and public policy and general counsel.

“This should send a clear signal to legislators: A public policy agenda that nurtures business growth goes a long way toward supporting the communities as well.”

Released by CBIA and Liberty Bank, the survey gauges the level and scope of corporate giving efforts.

In addition, it highlights the added value Connecticut businesses bring to cities and towns across the state–including job creation, economic activity, and community support.

Ripple effect

This past summer, when Hallmark announced the closing of its Connecticut distribution center and its relocation to Missouri, the loss hit not only the town of Enfield and the center’s 570 employees, but also the broader community.

2015giving2One of the town’s largest taxpayers, Hallmark was a major sponsor of Enfield’s annual Fourth of July celebration and a benefactor for charities such as Enfield Loaves and Fishes.

“I don’t know what we are going to do financially,” said Priscilla Brayson, director of the soup kitchen that serves 100 meals a day using Hallmark paper cups, napkins, tablecloths, and plates. “I don’t know what we’re going to do without them.”

In the wake of a budget approved by the General Assembly that contained the second-largest tax hike in the state’s history, a number of iconic Connecticut businesses this summer went public with their own concerns about continued investment in a state whose business climate they considered far less favorable than that of most states in the Northeast and throughout the United States.

“Clearly improving Connecticut’s business climate increases businesses’ capacity to contribute funding, goods, services, and volunteer hours where they are needed,” said CBIA economist Pete Gioia.

“This survey should serve as an important reminder to state lawmakers that decisions impacting businesses’ operations and bottom line have a ripple effect throughout Connecticut’s 169 cities and towns.”

2015giving3While most survey respondents represent small businesses with fewer than 50 employees, 63% donate at least $10,000 a year to area charities.

“It’s not just major corporations engaging in social responsibility,” said Gioia.

“It’s startups, family businesses, and global enterprises—all helping their local communities with direct contributions, employee volunteers, and in-kind donations.”

Connecticut businesses provide support to a wide range of nonprofits, including global charities like United Way and Habitat for Humanity, and local schools, youth groups, food pantries, health and social services, emergency services, and arts, sports, and religious organizations.

Many companies organize and/or sponsor signature annual events that are a key point in their giving.

Survey examples include ethnic heritage festivals; townwide festivals; charity golf outings, walkathons, or races; free Thanksgiving dinners; holiday toy collections; hospital galas; and charity block parties.

“The majority of Connecticut businesses are giving back to their communities in terms of both dollars and time,” said Chandler Howard, president and CEO of Liberty Bank.

“That investment has a significant impact on the quality of life in our state, but businesses don’t necessarily understand the impact of that generosity to their own bottom line.”

Employee engagement

A highly skilled workforce has long been the number one asset for Connecticut businesses. It is exactly that talented, productive workforce that provides vital services and volunteer hours for community organizations.

Connecticut companies not only encourage employees to volunteer on company time (53% of those surveyed) but often pay them when they do (26%) and recognize or reward them for their service (31%).

Sixty-four percent of businesses surveyed pay their employees for one-two days of volunteerism; 17% offer three-four paid days; and 10% offer five or more paid days for employees to engage in community service activities.

Forty percent offer matching gifts when employees donate or volunteer.

“It’s encouraging to see that not only do many businesses provide incentives for employees to volunteer for area charities, but many voluntarily pay them for their efforts,” said CBIA senior vice president Brian Flaherty.