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Business Community Touts Charitable Giving

by | Oct 22, 2015 10:50am
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Courtesy of CBIA

A Connecticut business organization is using a survey of 191 of its members to remind lawmakers and the public of the business community’s contributions to local charities.

A 2015 survey by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association and Liberty Bank found that 85 percent of companies contribute time and money to local charities, while 59 percent donate company products and services.

About 56 percent of companies surveyed have held steady on those charitable contributions year over year, and 40 percent increased their charitable giving. About 65 percent said they typically do more when the economy is strong and their company is growing.

“While Connecticut businesses have continued their tradition of charitable giving during a slow economic recovery, nearly two-thirds say they do even more when their business is thriving,” Bonnie Stewart, CBIA’s vice president of government affairs and public policy and general counsel, said in a press release.  “This should send a clear signal to legislators: A public policy agenda that nurtures business growth goes a long way toward supporting ... communities as well.”

The survey highlighted a decision by Hallmark to close its Enfield distribution center. Hallmark donates to charities such as Enfield Loaves and Fishes, a local soup kitchen.

“I don’t know what we are going to do financially,” Priscilla Brayson, director of Enfield and Loaves and Fishes, said. Hallmark donates paper cups, napkins, tablecloths and plates to the soup kitchen, which serves 100 meals a day.

While much of discussion about the state budget this year centered on the possibility that large corporations such as General Electric, Aetna, and Travelers would leave Connecticut if changes weren’t made to the legislature’s tax package, the survey pointed out that small business is also engaged in charitable giving.

“It’s not just major corporations engaging in social responsibility,” CBIA Economist Pete Gioia said. “It’s startups, family businesses, and global enterprises—all helping their local communities with direct contributions, employee volunteers, and in-kind donations.”

Most survey respondents represent small businesses with fewer than 50 employees, and 63 percent of those companies donate at least $10,000 a year to area charities, the survey found.

Forty percent offer matching gifts when employees donate or volunteer.

“Clearly improving Connecticut’s business climate increases businesses’ capacity to contribute funding, goods, services, and volunteer hours where they are needed,” Gioia said. “This survey should serve as an important reminder to state lawmakers that decisions impacting businesses’ operations and bottom line have a ripple effect throughout Connecticut’s 169 cities and towns.”

Connecticut businesses provide support to a wide range of nonprofits, including global charities such as United Way and Habitat for Humanity, and local schools, youth groups, food pantries, health and social services, emergency services, and arts, sports, and religious organizations.

If those companies leave the state, so does their charity.

“To lose the support of our corporate and business partners would strike a fatal blow to many nonprofit organizations,” Adrienne Cochrane, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Hartford, said in June.

During a public hearing in September of a state panel examining Connecticut’s tax structure, tax attorney Daniel Johnson of Cummings & Lockwood told the panel that he encourages his clients who are changing their residency to another state to break all ties to Connecticut. That includes charitable giving.

He’s given two talks recently about how to change your residency.

“A standard piece of advice for someone who is changing their residence is to break their ties with their former residence, so for a Connecticut resident who is a board member who may be making substantial donations to a local charity, the expectation would be that those donations are going to fall away over time,” Johnson said.

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