A week's worth
More than a year later, the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 remain a major story in philanthropy.
Last week, the Foundation Center in New York launched a Sept. 11-related database on its website (www.fdncenter.org/research/911/), tracking donors and recipients. It also released an update of an earlier report measuring and analyzing the breadth of foundation and corporate giving in the wake of the attacks.
"At this stage of our initiative, we are able to fill in much more of the picture of philanthropy's response to the tragedy, and we are creating new ways for the public to keep pace with this evolving story," commented Sara Engelhardt, president of the Foundation Center.
The 9/11 Funding Database will be updated as new information becomes available on institutional donors, grant recipients, and grants. Currently, users can search to find out how much a specific corporation or foundation gave and to which organizations.
The database also makes it possible to look closely at donors and recipients in various geographic areas, as well as the organizations receiving funds in human services, arts and culture, immigrant rights, foreign-policy research, and other service areas.
Americans want to support companies that act ethically and support good causes.
That's the main finding of the 2002 Cone Corporate Citizenship Study, which may reaffirm the need for companies to stand for something beyond profit, and reinforces the importance of making cause-related initiatives known.
In the survey of 1,040 adults nationwide, 84 percent said they would be likely to switch brands to one associated with a good cause, as long as price and quality held up favorably. This figure represents a nine-year high. "At every stage of a consumer's relationship with a brand ... a company's support of social issues positively impacts consumer attitudes and behavior, leading to increased sales and enhanced brand reputation," says Mark Feldman, executive vice president of Cone, in Boston.
In addition, Cone probed Americans' intentions to leverage consumer clout and found 76 percent "likely to boycott" a company's products or services if it is involved in negative social practices.
At work, philanthropy and support of social causes also goes a long way in boosting employee morale and attracting top-notch candidates, according to Cone. More than three-quarters of those polled weigh a firm's commitment to social issues when deciding where to work.
To Southern charm, add a reputation for charity. Southern states remain by far the nation's most generous, by at least one measure. But some Northern states are making gains, according to the recently released Generosity Index, by the Catalogue for Philanthropy, a Massachusetts group that tracks and encourages giving.
The latest survey, which compares a states' per capita giving with income, is based on year 2000 tax-returns, and so does not reflect the outpouring after Sept. 11, 2001. The Catalogue for Philanthropy says it expects to find a hike in giving when it mines 2001 and 2002 data.
The six most generous states: Mississippi, Arkansas, South Dakota, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Alabama. The six stingiest: New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan.
Massachusetts, which is listed seventh from the bottom, leads the nation in increasing charitable giving. From 1997 to 2000, it nearly doubled its giving - up 96.5 percent, to $3.96 billion.
For 2000, giving increased nationwide, too, thanks largely to the stock boom of the late '90s. From 1996 to 2000, the nation's personal income increased 38.5 percent, while charitable giving increased 62.2 percent, says the group.
Each year, the US Postal Service gets stuck with about 164,000 tons of cereal boxes, toothpaste tubes, and bars of soap - among other product samples - that are returned because the consumer's address is wrong or has been changed.
In the past, the products were generally thrown away because the Postal Service did not have any procedure for their redistribution. But a new regulation adopted by the department last month now calls on local post offices to collect and donate such products to charity.
The regulation also allows that the products be given to nearly all types of nonprofit groups, rather than just organizations that receive partial funding from the government.
Charitable groups should contact their local post office to design a process by which they can pick up undelivered products, says Julie Rhodes, executive director of ReDo, a nonprofit group in Indianapolis that advocates the reuse of products.
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