12/1/2012 10:00:00 PM Corporate giving rebounds after slump
Courtesy photo Arizona Public Services donates a truckload of wood that its forestry crews chopped from trees it felled because they were in the way of power lines in 2008.
Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier Dan Delano, a volunteer with the Living Faith Church, hands Victoria Clark, center, a turkey while fellow volunteer Sylvia Maiorana, left, helps her with her food box Nov. 21 at the Living Faith Church’s Thanksgiving Food Drive in Prescott Valley.
Ken Hedler The Daily Courier
Area businesses have contributed to charities even in tough economic times, and at least one major charitable organization has witnessed a rebounding as the economy has improved.
Corporate giving is all year round.
"I would say we were hit pretty hard in 2009 and 2010 because of the economy," said Melanie Jacobson, executive director of United Way of Yavapai County in Prescott.
Donations dropped about 25 percent at the time, but they began to pick up at the start of this year, Jacobson said.
Jacobson said one reason for the rebound is bigger companies in the county enable their employees to donate to United Way through payroll deductions of 50 cents to $40 per month.
Employers in turn match the contributions of their workers by as much as 150 percent, Jacobson said. For instance, she said Mike Fann, owner of Fann Contracting in Prescott, matches employee contributions 100 percent.
Employee contributions go directly to social service programs, Jacobson said.
"We can use our corporate match for overhead expenses," she said, referring to salaries, utilities, rent and the like.
Payroll deductions are an organized way that results in a steadier flow of contributions, said Gerry Keim, chairman of the Management Department at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University in Tempe.
Keim, who formerly advised corporate clients on philanthropy, said employees at some companies choose the charities they want to support. Employers in those circumstances often match two to three times of the amount that their workers contribute.
He said it is best to allow employees to select the charities if the corporate goal is to improve the communities where employees live.
If the goal is to recruit prospective employees, companies should support educational programs at schools or colleges, Keim said. They also could award scholarships to students with the same goal in mind.
Keim recommends charitable giving through- out the year, instead of just during the holiday season that began around Thanksgiving.
"I think all year works better," Keim said. "I just think the needs of organizations are not concentrated this time of the year. It helps them (charities) with their planning and budgeting."
At least two locally owned business support the year-round approach to charitable giving.
Prescott Aerospace in Prescott Valley and the True Value hardware store in Prescott support charities and nonprofit entities such as food banks and youth organizations.
"Probably the biggest is the (Yavapai) Food Bank," said Michael Dailey, president and general manager of Prescott Aerospace. "We just write them a check. Employees contribute weekly."
Prescott Aerospace donated more than $2,000 to the food bank in 2011 and "that much or more" so far this year, Dailey said. He said Prescott Aerospace also supports the Chino Valley Food Bank, breast cancer research and athletic programs at Bradshaw Mountain High School in Prescott Valley.
Besides supporting the Yavapai Food Bank, True Value donates money to the Salvation Army, and supports 30 to 40 local organizations, part owner Tom Toth said.
True Value also hires a Santa Claus to visit schools, donates to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Arizona and sponsors gift certificates for Yavapai Big Brothers Big Sisters, Toth said.
"We continued (to give) even during the hard times," Toth said.
Area contractors supported charities during the Great Recession even though their industry was one of the most devastated, according to Sandy Griffis, executive director of the Yavapai County Contractors Association.
Contractors have donated money and materials and volunteered their time, Griffis said.
"They give so unselfishly and they don't expect anything in return," Griffis said. "Their giving extends far beyond the world of just contracting and building. The ultimate goal is to touch and enhance the lives of all of us who call Yavapai County home."
To maximize the benefits of corporate giving and other charitable donations, United Way in 2009 established community impact initiatives with the help of the Yavapai Community Foundation, Jacobson said.
The first initiative involved supporting the Hunger Relief Collaborative beginning in 2009, Jacobson said. The project helped to serve nearly 200,000 meals in three years.
"What we now do is fund programs that are created by nonprofits collaborating to establish social services that no other agency can do on its own," Jacobson said.
"What we found that because our county is 8,000 square miles, a little over 200,000 people live here, there are not enough donors for those 1,200 nonprofits to give to those who really need it," she continued. "They are scrambling to cover their overhead. That is not true for Big Brothers Big Sisters. That is not true for the Boys and Girls Club."
Companies that support charities may deduct as much as 10 percent of their taxable income in a tax year, said Bill Brunson, public information officer for the Internal Revenue Service in Phoenix.