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Nonprofits wait to learn depth of Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake's planned spending cuts

Chesapeake Energy Corp. intends to reduce its charitable giving, but Oklahoma City area nonprofit organizations still do not know what that will mean for them.
BY JAY F. MARKS jmarks@opubco.com Published: January 9, 2013

United Way of Central Oklahoma CEO Debby Hampton expects Chesapeake Energy Corp. to remain a strong partner for the organization, despite the company's stated plans to reduce its budget by half for charitable spending, trade association dues and lobbying over the next few years.

Chesapeake on Tuesday declined to release any details about its plans to reduce spending, as announced a day earlier in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

That has left the nonprofit organizations that rely on Chesapeake's donations wondering what the future holds.

“I just need more information to know what that means,” Hampton said. “We haven't heard from Chesapeake.”

Chesapeake's SEC filing on Monday did not reveal how much it spends on charitable giving, trade associations and lobbying, but the report states Chesapeake intends to “significantly” reduce its budget in those areas.

Chesapeake donated $31 million to charity in 2011, according to its 2011 annual report released in May. The Center for Responsive Politics shows Chesapeake spent $1.3 million on federal lobbying in the first three quarters of 2012.

The company's charitable giving in 2011 included $5.5 million to the United Way of Central Oklahoma.

“They have been giving very generously to us,” Hampton said. “They're our largest donor.”

Chesapeake's contribution — which includes donations from its employees and the company's match — accounted for nearly a quarter of the $22.2 million brought in during United Way's 2011 fundraising campaign. Last year's campaign results will be announced this month.

Hampton said Chesapeake employees also contribute as volunteers and board members for local nonprofits.

“They are a very strong partner,” like many of Oklahoma City's other large companies, she said.

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