By John S. McClenahen Despite a slow-to-recover economy during much of the past two years, corporate contributions to charity by the largest U.S. corporations have remained relatively strong. "The largest U.S. corporations continue to add to their contribution budgets despite less than ideal economic conditions," says Sophia A. Muirhead, a senior research associate at the Conference Board, a New York-based business research group. "The situation will continue throughout next year as well," she predicts. The Conference Board figures total U.S. giving from 205 of the largest U.S. companies and corporate foundations was $4.45 billion in 2002, the most recent year for which it has complete data. Among the 111 companies and foundations surveyed in both recession year 2001 and recovery year 2002, overall charitable giving increased a reported 13.72%. However, median contributions declined 4.5% to $8.02 million from $8.4 million between 2001 and 2002. The Conference Board reported the results of its most recent annual survey of corporate giving on Jan. 8.