May 10, 2010; Worcester Business Journal | There has been a lot of talk about corporations maintaining their charitable giving despite the recession. Some of that seems to be hype, some of it in-kind contributions and volunteer time as substitutions for money. Nonetheless, corporate giving is typically concentrated on cities with headquarters and major facilities. Small cities without a lot of corporate executive presence are generally out of the running, regardless of the reports of corporations’ “giving back” to their communities.

Places where corporations are leaving due to shutdowns or mergers experience sharp reductions in corporate giving. This article compares two United Way campaigns with different corporate community contexts—Fitchburg, Massachusetts, where workplace giving, corporate matching grants, sponsorships, and other assistance amounts to 54 percent of the United Way budget (individual donations account for the rest), and Framingham, Massachusetts, near the corporation-rich I-495 beltway, where corporation giving and workplace giving account for 90 percent of gifts.

It’s not just the corporate grantmaking that makes the difference, it is the presence of corporate workforces available for United Way payroll deduction charitable campaigns. Nonprofits in the story advise continuing to reach out to corporations even if they don’t have footprints in your localities, and for those corporations that are local, getting them directly involved in your programs to help build the platform for continuing or expanded contributions.—Rick Cohen