When Charity Doesn't Begin At Home

WHILE OVERALL corporate charitable giving is down, there's an interesting cross-current: U.S. companies are donating more abroad. Adjusted for inflation, total giving dipped 2% in 1994, to $6.1 billion, says the American Association of Fund Raising Counsel Trust for Philanthropy. That's part of a slide under way since 1987 that has resulted from factors ranging from the '86 tax reform to greater cost-consciousness.

On the international front, however, U.S. corporate beneficence is up, largely because it's a way to sow goodwill in expanding markets. Plus, says Sprint Chairman William Esrey, the chairman of CARE's Corporate Council, there is dismay over such "mind-numbing" calamities as the Rwanda crisis.

While no hard numbers exist on corporate charity overseas, experts say it has risen rapidly. The Corporate Philanthropy Report newsletter estimates it is expanding yearly by 60%. A Conference Board survey finds that the median international charitable contribution of 40 large companies almost doubled in 1994, to $1.2 million.

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