The donation behavior of enterprises can not only improve the level of their own moral capital and improve the relationship with stakeholders, but also temporarily relieve some pressure on local governments, promote common prosperity, and achieve high-quality economic and social development. At the micro level, the enterprise’s return to the society is manifested as “good deeds” such as charitable donations, and the social recognition of the enterprise is manifested as the performance return of the enterprise. In the context of sustainable economic development, “good deeds” will have a significant impact on corporate earnings sustainability, and this impact will vary according to different donation motivations.
This paper takes China’s A-share listed companies from 2008 to 2021 as the sample to examine the impact of corporate donations on their earnings sustainability. The results show that there is a significant positive correlation between donations and earnings sustainability. That is, when enterprises participate in donations and donate more, they can increase government subsidies, reduce corporate financing costs, enhance corporate innovation level, stabilize customer relations, bring various resources, and thus improve earnings sustainability. Motivation testing shows that donations with different motivations can bring resources, but there are still differences. Heterogeneity analysis shows that, from the perspective of resource endowment, corporate donations in the east of “Hu Huanyong line” have a better effect on earnings sustainability; from the perspective of resource dependence, corporate donations from the secondary industry and the tertiary industry also have a better effect on earnings sustainability.
The marginal contributions of this paper are that: First, from the perspective of common prosperity goal, it studies how the third distribution represented by corporate donations affects the sustainable development of corporate earnings, providing certain enlightenment for the better implementation of “guiding and supporting enterprises to actively participate in public welfare and philanthropy”. Second, it reveals the resource differences brought about by corporate donations under different motivations, providing a theoretical basis for better understanding and guiding the donation behavior of enterprises to achieve common prosperity of the whole society. The conclusions verify the positive effect of corporate donations on earnings sustainability, and further clarify the differences in the ability of different donation motivations to obtain resources, which is conducive to responding to the negative argument of existing studies that corporate donations may worsen their performance, and encouraging enterprises to actively participate in the third distribution of social resources and wealth.