Corporate Philanthropy in Detroit Has Yet to Rebound

Although many corporate foundations in Detroit, including those of the Big Three automakers, have seen revenues rise at their parent companies, giving in the region has yet to rebound, Crain's Detroit Business reports.

During the recession, the Masco Corporation Foundation cut back on the number of capital campaign and multiyear grants it awards. The foundation also eliminated most of its sponsorship of fundraising events, including dinners and golf outings. In total, the foundation and its parent company gave about $8 million in 2009 — about 10 percent less than the year before. Similarly, the Ford Motor Co. Fund reduced its giving from $33.3 million in 2008 to $18.6 million in 2011 and stopped making grants for capital campaigns, focusing instead on support for programs in the areas of education, driving safety, community development, human services, and the arts. Chrysler, which reduced its charitable giving from $33.5 million in 2008 to $1.5 million this year, continues to give at a relatively low level, as its grantmaking is limited because it received federal Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds.

Elsewhere, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, which saw the value of its endowment fall from $62 million to $38.5 million in 2008, scaled back its grantmaking from 5 percent of its endowment (approximately $2.7 million) to 4 percent ($1.5 million). But as the economy started to recover last year, the organization increased its giving to $1.8 million and hopes to boost that to about $1.9 million in 2011 and $2 million in 2012.

The General Motors Foundation also cut back, giving only $11 million in 2011 — down from $23 million in 2008 — but it expects to increase its giving in coming years, especially to education and arts organizations. "We are not going to forsake our investment in the arts and humanities," said GM vice chairman John Montford. "There's a strong feeling in management...that we feel strongly about our hometown, and we're going to reinvest in it."

Sherri Welch. "Recession Stung Many Corporate Foundations." Crain's Detroit Business 08/21/2011. Sherri Welch. "Detroit 3 Giving Slow to Bounce Back From Recession." Crain's Detroit Business 08/21/2011.