COMPAS Poll/Survey
May 15, 2006

Corporate Giving: Widespread Agreement about Facts, Not about Obligation; Charities Admired, but Hints of Embryonic SOX-Type Backlash

  A Weekly BDO Dunwoody CEO Business Leader Poll by COMPAS in the Financial Post
Policy and Opinion
Business and Finance
The CEO panel was asked a broad range of questions on charities, the tax treatment of donations, the comparative social service roles of charities and government, and corporate obligation.

Panelists tend to perceive the landscape consensually but differ about their obligations to give. On the facts, the CEOs and business leaders on the panel tend to agree that the Harper government’s elimination of capital gains tax on donations was excellent, charities should play an important role in providing social services because of their greater capacity for innovation, and efficiency and because donors scrutinize the work of charities more carefully than do taxpayers scrutinize the work of government, corporate support for charities increases employee morale, and charities’ pressure on companies for financial support is on the upswing.

Panelists do not agree about the magnitude of the business sector’s obligations. For example, only a minority agree that “profitable organizations should be obliged to share their wealth with the less fortunate.”

Charities benefit from a kind of halo effect in the eyes of the majority of panelists today. Yet, there emerge hints of an embryonic backlash. Some minority opinions were volunteered that, if held more widely, would not augur well for the charitable sector. In our Sarbanes-Oxley era, a few business leaders volunteered concern about a lack of financial accountability for charities. Comments about charities operating in the third world seemed to elicit the most concern, which ranged from criticism about misuse of funds to fanaticism.

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