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Why the Super Bowl’s location matters: Local ties still bind corporations in globalized era, says new study on philanthropy. Giving is also affected by natural disasters.

May 22, 2013

TORONTO, ON – If you’re a small char­i­ty look­ing for some cor­po­rate largesse, peg­ging your ask to a big morale-boost­ing event planned for your com­mu­ni­ty may help seal the deal, sug­gests a new study on cor­po­rate giv­ing.

The paper found that cor­po­rate phil­an­thropy spikes upward dur­ing “mega-events” such as the Olympics, the Super Bowl, or even polit­i­cal con­ven­tions. The find­ing goes against pre­vi­ous research that says cor­po­rate giv­ing tends to stay sta­ble.

“For non-prof­it man­agers, it sug­gests that one poten­tial­ly rea­son­able strat­e­gy might be to tie some of their efforts in fundrais­ing and build­ing local cor­po­rate rela­tion­ships to these mega-events,” says András Tilc­sik, an assis­tant pro­fes­sor of strate­gic man­age­ment at the Rot­man School of Man­age­ment at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to, who co-wrote the study with Christo­pher Mar­quis, an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor at Har­vard Busi­ness School.

The paper also found that cor­po­rate giv­ing can dra­mat­i­cal­ly increase dur­ing times of local nat­ur­al dis­as­ters. The find­ings on the impact of mega-events and dis­as­ters under­line that, despite the belief that most major cor­po­ra­tions act glob­al­ly, they are also affect­ed by what is hap­pen­ing in the com­mu­ni­ties where they are head­quar­tered, and where many of their exec­u­tive staff live.

“Com­mu­ni­ties still real­ly mat­ter, even in this glob­al age,” says Prof. Tilc­sik.

The researchers based their con­clu­sions on analy­sis of data on the char­i­ta­ble giv­ing of local­ly-head­quar­tered For­tune 1000 firms between 1980 and 2006.

Char­i­ta­ble giv­ing dur­ing times of nat­ur­al dis­as­ters depend­ed on how severe the dam­age was. Seri­ous dis­as­ters saw a drop in char­i­ta­ble giv­ing, where­as small­er-scale events increased giv­ing.

Prof. Tilc­sik says one expla­na­tion for the dif­fer­ence may be that dur­ing major dis­as­ters oth­er forms of sup­port, such as gov­ern­ment aid, step in to help out with local needs. As well, local non-prof­its that ordi­nar­i­ly would be tar­get­ed for giv­ing by cor­po­ra­tions may be so neg­a­tive­ly affect­ed them­selves — such as through the dis­place­ment of their own staff and board mem­bers — that they may not be able to receive dona­tions or car­ry out their nor­mal work.

The study was recent­ly pub­lished in Admin­is­tra­tive Sci­ence Quar­ter­ly.

For the lat­est think­ing on busi­ness, man­age­ment and eco­nom­ics from the Rot­man School of Man­age­ment, vis­it

The Rot­man School of Man­age­ment at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to is redesign­ing busi­ness edu­ca­tion for the 21st cen­tu­ry with a cur­ricu­lum based on Inte­gra­tive Think­ing. Locat­ed in the world’s most diverse city, the Rot­man School fos­ters a new way to think that enables the design of cre­ative busi­ness solu­tions. The School is cur­rent­ly rais­ing $200 mil­lion to ensure Cana­da has the world-class busi­ness school it deserves. For more infor­ma­tion, vis­it


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Rot­man School of Man­age­ment
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