Corporate donations to charity fell by an estimated 27 per cent over the past two years, according to a new report by the Directory of Social Change.
The DSC’s first Company Giving Almanac, published today, is based on data in the ninth edition of the Guide to UK Company Giving, published earlier this year.
The figures show that contributions to charity from the annual reports of 551 companies were valued at £603m, including cash donations of £470m. This was 27 per cent lower than in the eighth edition of the Guide to UK Company Giving, published in spring 2011.
The latest giving figures constitute 0.4 per cent of pre-tax profits of the companies surveyed. The DSC estimates that total giving by companies to UK charities is worth between £700m and £800m a year.
Catherine Walker, the author of the report and head of sector trends, evidence, analysis and metrics at the DSC, said that she had attempted to capture all the UK’s most generous companies, but the report did not necessarily include all major corporate donors. She said the report covered about 80 to 90 per cent of all corporate giving in the UK.
Walker said that the proportion of all company profits in the UK given to charity was impossible to calculate but would be "very much lower".
The most generous companies were the defence barrier company Hesco Bastion, which gave 45 per cent of its pre-tax profit, and the home entertainment retailer Richer Sounds, which gave 19 per cent of pre-tax profits. The report found that 20 per cent of the companies gave 90 per cent of the cash donations.
Companies accounted for only 2 per cent of all UK giving in the period covered by the report.
Walker said that the results showed company giving was "underwhelming, and that’s an understatement".
She said: "One of the most popular areas of giving was for underprivileged young people. But this giving is worth only £15 a head for them. That’s the cost of a takeaway pizza; it’s hardly transformational.
"There is a small elite group that is responsible for most giving in the UK. On the whole, it’s pretty tokenistic. And not only was their generosity pretty miserable, but they were giving in the wrong places. If you look at where companies give, it’s not in areas of deprivation.
"I can understand why companies would want to give in the locations where they have their shops and offices, but we would like them to change. We suspect they won’t."