How We Tallied Corporate Largesse

To create this year's rankings of corporate givers, BusinessWeek invited companies in the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index to report on their 2004 giving. We heard from 204 companies, or 41%. Of those, 190 reported numbers reflecting their cash gifts; 140 provided values for in-kind gifts such as products and services.

We changed the way we calculate rankings this year. In the past we used the numbers reported by companies to create ratios of giving as a percentage of fiscal year revenues, as measured by S&P. This year we switched to a ranking method the philanthropic community considers more accurate. Now we are presenting corporate giving as a percentage of fiscal year 2004 company pretax profits. We used these percentages to tally our rankings of the top 15 cash and in-kind givers.

We try hard not to count donations twice. Since many companies make charitable donations through corporate foundations, we chalk up donations only when they are made to the foundation -- not when the foundation makes grants. We hope our rankings offer insight into how companies go about the business of philanthropy.

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