Group To Research Effect of Corporate Giving

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is partnering with Indiana University's Center on Philanthropy to study how corporations that give back to their communities fit into local economic and community development, with a keen eye toward the small business community.

The project was started "to identify what some of the critical issues are for long-term economic competitive issues for a community and for small businesses to become more engaged," Ryan Streeter, senior adviser to the the Chamber's Business Civic Leadership Center, told the Small Business blog.

He said many large firms have expressed that they experienced a "disconnect between certain special projects" that they sponsored for a community such as a 10K run with what they felt they could contribute for a region's long-term development.

The chamber on Wednesday announced that it received a grant from the U.S. Commerce Department to conduct a national survey on this matter and will hold forums with local experts in eight U.S. regions.

The first four forums will take place in Houston; Newark, N.J.; San Jose, Calif.; and St. Louis. The remainder of the forum locations will be announced in January.

"Small business will have a big role to play" in the study, said Streeter, who added that small firms will have a very important voice in the forums and representation in the survey.

"They are critical players because hardly anyone will be more affected by a region's long-term competitiveness than they will," said Streeter, who is also vice president of Washington-based Civic Enterprises.

The Chamber's leadership center also plans to create an online network to "connect the findings from the forums and advance a national initiative to better incorporate corporate citizenship resources into local development strategies."

Indiana University will conduct the research component of the project, which will build on center findings that 60 percent of all corporate donations are directed to local community development.

The results of the survey are expected to be released next year.

If a small business is interested in participating in a forum, it should contact the local chamber of commerce in any of the four cities hosting the events.

Large corporations such as Accenture, Allstate Insurance, CVS Caremark, JP Morgan Chase and Verizon Communications already have announced their involvement in the forums.

By Sharon McLoone |  November 1, 2007; 9:00 AM ET Calendar Events
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