Peninsula, Valley firms are strong givers, study finds

Companies in Silicon Valley, including San Mateo County, are likely “on par” with companies nationally in charitable giving, according to a study released this morning by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

“For a long time, Silicon Valley had this rap as the land of the cyber-stingy,” said Peter Hero, senior advisor to the foundation, which commissioned a survey of 100 companies, most in information technology, professional services and finance. “In point of fact, people living in Silicon Valley are about as generous as people nationally.”

By some measures, the studied companies may give more than their counterparts nationwide, according to the study. The firms surveyed gave, on the median, 1 percent of revenue and 3 percent of profit, compared with 0.1 percent and 0.9 percent for those same medians in the Corporate Giving Standards 2006 national study of charitable giving. That study is frequently quoted as rating median total giving of 100 companies at $29 million each — but that study of 100 firms includes 40 Fortune 100 companies, whereas SVCF’s study included small businesses such as restaurants.

The study included 13 San Mateo County companies, including Genentech Inc. (DNA), Electronic Arts Inc. (ERTS) and the restaurant 231 Ellsworth. The remaining companies were based in Santa Clara County, where the study was originally commissioned prior to the merger of two charitable foundations to found SVCF in 2006.

The largest recipients of corporate giving by companies in the study were, in order, health and human services, education, civic and community groups, arts and culture and the environment, but companies reported a planned increase in giving to education and the environment, and a recent decrease in giving to arts and culture.

The full report is important because companies around the world look to the example Silicon Valley sets, SVCF CEO and President Emmett Carson said. The report is available online at http://www.siliconvalleycf.org/ .

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