Thursday, July 8, 2010

Should Corporations' Charitable Giving Be Disclosed?

In article entitled "The Democratization of Corporate Philanthropy" published in's "The CSR Blog," James Epstein-Reeves argues that corporations' nondisclosure of their charitable giving efforts is "absolutely necessary because of the sheer number of requests corporate giving officers receive."  Epstein-Reeves, described by Forbes as "a Chicago-based expert on corporate social responsibility, philanthropy, and cause-marketing and the president of Do Well Do Good, LLC," defines "democratization" as the corporate trend of philanthropic contests such as Pepsi Refresh, Kohl’s Cares, and the Members Project. He opines that these contests in which people vote for charitable giving priorities place “the general public . . . in charge of dictating a company’s giving . . . by using social media.”  Epstein-Reeves does correctly distinguish between the lack of required disclosure by corporations and the required disclosure (via Form 990-PFs) of corporate foundations' charitable giving.

In response to Epstein-Reeves' article, The Nonprofit Quarterly takes an opposing view: "So let’s get this straight.  Giving 'the public' the ability to vote for the charitable distribution of a small amount of corporate largesse is democratization and so is keeping the philanthropic grantmaking of major corporations secret. Every grantmaker makes the argument for secrecy. Remember, private foundations argued against making their 990PFs open to public disclosure too."


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