How Charitable is the Financial Industry?

Wall Street has a well-earned reputation for deep pockets, but less public attention is paid to how often the financial industry reaches into those pockets in the name of charity.

According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s 2016 report on corporate giving, which examined 17 years of data on the philanthropic contributions of the country’s largest public companies, financial services and drug companies are the biggest givers of cash donations. When Fortune did a deeper dive on the same data set to identify the most generous companies in the Fortune 500, seven of the top 20 were in the financial services industry. The combined total of annual donations by those seven companies exceeds $1 billion. And according to a paper published by Garry W. Jenkins at Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law, the percentage of nonprofit board members who come from the financial industry doubled between 1989 and 2015.

Financial Industry Donation Destinations

Who are the recipients of those hundreds of millions of dollars in charitable donations from the financial industry? Philanthropic priorities vary from organization to organization, but there are some common themes when it comes to causes that financial companies tend to support—particularly in the areas of economic development and education.

Wells Fargo, the highest-ranking financial services company on the aforementioned Fortune list, reports that it donated $281.3 million to 14,900 nonprofits in 2016 to support financial education, community development, affordable housing, education, disaster relief, clean technology, job training and environmental education. Goldman Sachs focuses on four major initiatives to benefit women entrepreneurs, small businesses, underserved communities and local charities in the areas where its employees work and live. And through its Citi Foundation, Citigroup “invests in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities.”

Invest in Others Sponsor Areas of Impact

At Invest in Others, we work with more than 60 corporate sponsors from the financial industry. These companies generously support our efforts to reward and recognize financial advisors for their charitable work, which includes monetary awards to their favorite charities. Our sponsors include broker-dealers, custodians, mutual fund companies, banks, financial advisory firms and more.

Among our sponsors, the top areas of impact for corporate philanthropy are human services and youth development/education. Additionally, financial literacy is a high priority and an area in which these companies have ample expertise and resources to share.

Since 2006, Invest in Others has partnered with more than 155 different nonprofits representing these and a variety of other causes. Our flagship event is the Invest in Others Awards Gala, which is held every September.