Corporate Giving in Italy: the value of donations and contributions by companies grew

Sustainability Lab


Corporate Giving in Italy: the value of donations and contributions by companies grew by 26.3% in 2020, and 85% of companies allocated 51% to Italian organizations and beneficiaries.

65% of companies are committed to corporate volunteering.

In 42% of companies, sustainability functions report directly to the CEO and top management, and 64% say they take the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into account.

These are some of the results of the fourth edition of the research on philanthropy that Dynamo Academy and SDA Bocconi Sustainability Lab conducted on 116 large and medium-sized companies totaling 17% of the Italian GDP.

Dynamo Academy is a social enterprise that has been offering advisory, engagement and training services to companies, institutions and schools since 2010 so that they can be engines for the Common Good and create an impact in their communities. SDA Bocconi Sustainability Lab is a multidisciplinary think-tank that carries out applied research, drawing on the expertise of teachers, researchers and professionals. Together, they have presented Corporate Giving in Italy, a quantitative and qualitative survey on corporate philanthropy in Italy.

The research, now in its fourth edition, analyzed the strategic commitment to the common good of 116 medium and large companies, regarding the fiscal years 2019 and 2020. At a methodological level, 57 companies were directly involved in the survey; for the remaining 59, company reports were analyzed.

Philanthropy is growing: there was an increase of 4.6% compared to the previous year in 2019 and of 26.3% in 2020, with overall values of 170.1 million euros and 567.1 million, respectively. Average expenditure was 370,000 euros and 510,000 euros.

As to the areas receiving philanthropic investments, culture and recreation were top in 2019, while “Civil protection, emergency and disasters” (19%) followed by health and public health (17%) were in first place in 2020, in line with the health situation.

Geographically speaking, 85% of the sample allocated 51% of its donations to Italian beneficiaries and organizations in both years. 34% in 2019 and a growing 35.4% in 2020 are the percentages of companies that allocated at least part of their budget outside Italy, primarily in Europe, followed by Africa and Asia.

83% of the sample declared that they have a solidarity-based purpose in managing projects in favor of third-sector beneficiaries. 61% had a strategic approach, slightly down from 74% in the 2019 edition. Top management remained key in charting the course of donating, with 42.2% of companies where those in charge of giving report directly to CEOs and general managers. This was the case even though mixed methods (top down and bottom up) prevailed for the selection of philanthropic projects, involving employees as stakeholders.

Speaking of employees again, 53% of companies implemented corporate volunteering initiatives in both 2019 and 2020. In 2019, companies engaged in some form of corporate volunteering were 74% (up 13% from 2018) against 67.5% in 2020.

64% of companies took the SDGs, the sustainable development goals defined by the United Nations, into account when planning their giving initiatives (up 18% compared to the previous survey), and an additional 11% is evaluating the introduction of the SDGs grid.

We now have no doubt of the close link between economic success and social progress,” said Francesco Perrini, SDA Bocconi Professor of Corporate Finance and Real Estate, Scientific Director of the Sustainability Lab and Co-Director of the ESG Lab at the CDR - “Claudio Demattè” Corporate & Financial Institutions Research division. “Every day a growing number of companies demonstrate that philanthropic investments generate shared value and have a positive impact on business as well. This research conducted with Dynamo Academy has involved more than 365 companies in Italy over the years, and showed that sustainability has increasingly become a strategic tool for companies, to the advantage of the common good.”

I want to thank SDA Bocconi’s Sustainability Lab for supporting us in the study of important topics for our country. With this research, Dynamo Academy aims to show companies how important it is to invest in their communities. This should bring not only immediate benefits but also lead to the triggering of social change. The research provides useful benchmarks for companies and CEOs to commit themselves and take up a role of leadership and responsibility,” Serena Porcari, CEO of Dynamo Academy, commented.

The full research, conducted thanks to support from PWC Italy and Reale Group, includes in-depth analysis and case studies, and is available on request at

A comparison with the CECP international survey

The Global Impact at Scale research has recently been published by CECP (Chief Exectutives for Corporate Purpose), an American network which Dynamo Academy has been partnering with for Italy since 2016. This study presents the international corporate strategy trends in areas including ESG, SDGs, response to health emergency and employee engagement, and analyzes 200 companies from 18 countries, with a median revenue of 5.7 billion dollars, based on 2020 data.

Among the research’s highlights:

  • 76% of companies expect full ESG integration at all levels of the company within 5 years;
  • 70% of companies report an increase in resources allocated to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) projects;
  • 51% of companies have made new contributions to their communities in response to the Covid-19 pandemic;
  • 71% report an increase in resources allocated for the future of work and 58% for encouraging healthy lifestyles;
  • By analyzing the world’s 3,000 top companies by revenue, CECP also found that the median value of donations to communities increased by 77%, from 2.8 million dollars in 2019 to 4.95 million in 2020.

SDA Bocconi School of Management



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