Corporate Gifts to K-12 Education Up 12%, Survey Finds

By Jonathan Weisman — October 30, 1991 2 min read

Corporate gifts to K-12 education jumped by 12.3 percent in 1990 over the year before, far outstripping the sluggish overall growth in corporate philanthropy, which failed to keep pace with inflation for the third straight year, a new survey reports.

Total charitable contributions from business rose from $5.86 billion in 1989 to $6 billion in 1990, according to the survey, conducted by the Council for Aid to Education and the Conference Board. The growth represented a 2.4 percent increase; inflation during the same period averaged 5.4 percent.

Forced to prioritize in recessionary times, however, the survey’s findings indicate that corporations decided to maintain their steadily increasing support for elementary and secondary education.

Support for precollegiate education rose from $235 million in 1989 to $264 million in 1990, according to the survey, which polled 339 corporations and then projected the total figures.

The participating companies reported total donations of $1.9 billion last year.

The total gifts to K-12 education still represent a fraction of the $1.7 billion donated to higher education, which consumes 72 percent of total corporate giving to education. Precollegiate gifts represented 11 percent of the total.

But growth in higher-education gifts was only 2.3 percent.

Moreover, funding for other education-related gifts not falling into the collegiate or precollegiate categories-including scholarship funds, after-school groups, and other education-oriented organizations-declined last year, to $408 million from $422 million in 1989.

‘Encouraging Statistics’

Over all, education represented 40 percent--or $2.4 billion@f corporate giving.

Corporate support for K-12 education has ballooned steadily since 1976--from $18 million to $264 million in 1990, according to the study.

The trend “reflects what we’ve been hearing and seeing in regard to corporate interests,” said Mary K. Leonard, director of precollegiate-education programs at the Council on Foundations. “It’s encouraging to hear the statistics are going along with all the anecdotes we have out there.”

By contrast, overall growth in corporate philanthropy has been fading.

Last year’s 2.4 percent growth followed increases of 4 percent in 1989 and 2 percent in 1988. The slowdown was preceded by unprecedented growth between 1976 and 1985, when philanthropy increased by an average of 16 percent a year, according to the report.

Adjusted for inflation, growth averaged 8.4 percent annually between 1976 and 1985, and only a half percentage point a year since then.

Even during that period of slowdown, however, K-12 gifts have bucked the trend.

Corporate donations to K-12 education have more than doubled since 1986, compared with a 17 percent increase in overall giving.

The study predicted that slow overall growth would continue this year.

Still, corporations were slightly more generous with their pre-tax earnings in 1990 than in 1989. In 1990, companies donated 1.96 percent of their pre-tax income to charities at a time of shrinking profits. In 1989, total giving was 1.91 percent of pre-tax income.

A version of this article appeared in the October 30, 1991 edition of Education Week as Corporate Gifts to K-12 Education Up 12%, Survey Finds