A report issued recently by the Capital Research Center in Washington punctures illusions that tend to associate big corporations with right-wing or conservative causes. The report depicts a reality that is exactly the opposite.
CRC researchers examined contributions made in 2004 by the foundations of the nation's top 100 corporations to nonprofit organizations. The result: corporate contributions to left-leaning groups totaled $59 million and to right-leaning organizations $4 million.
That's about 14.5 corporate dollars going to the left for each dollar going to the right.
For purposes of the research, right-leaning organizations were defined as those generally supporting lower taxes, less regulation, less spending on social programs, more on defense, tough criminal laws, traditional values and the right to bear arms. Left-leaning organizations are those on the opposite side of these issues.
At first blush, this is a highly counterintuitive picture. Why would corporations support organizations whose goals are to make it harder for them to conduct their business?
The report proposes a number of explanations. Among these are the fact that corporations seek competitive advantage, which means that they do not necessarily uniformly support lower taxes and less regulation. They also make decisions regarding "strategic" giving that they conclude nurtures a particular corporate image. And, they respond to pressure.
The report mentions well-known shakedown techniques, turned into an art form by the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Make public allegations about racism and then take large payments in the form of contributions to go away. A payoff is cheaper than an extended dispute about an accusation, even if it's bogus.
Consider the woes of Wal-Mart over recent years in its efforts to open stores in inner-city areas. Certainly it's not an accident that the company, over these recent years, has become a generous supporter, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, to the NAACP.
At this year's NAACP annual meeting, its president, Bruce Gordon, brought Target into the crosshairs of his organization. Apparently Target's transgression was not responding to a survey that the NAACP sends out annually to corporations.
Gordon announced at the meeting, "We have companies that haven't responded for two years. ... Some folks in our community like Target because you know they have good prices and a nice product line. They don't even care to respond to our survey. Stay out of their stores."