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The Giving USA Foundation and its research partner, the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, report that although total philanthropic giving decreased by an estimated -3.6% in 2009, corporate giving grew an estimated 5.5%. In fact, some of the largest companies increased their contributions, both in-kind and cash, enough to counteract the declines.

According to Giving USA Foundation chair Edith H. Falk, "In addition to support from individuals and foundations, some nonprofits received exceptional support from the corporate sector, which included billions of dollars’ worth of in-kind donations, particularly from information technology firms and pharmaceutical manufacturers."

This is great news, of course. But, do you have to be a big corporation to do good? From cause marketing, to grants, to buying tables at fund-raising events, businesses of all types are flying their corporate social responsibility flags by investing in their communities. And why?

According to the 2009 Global Edelman goodpurpose™ Study, "Despite the downturn, across the globe people's sense of commitment to helping others—and to brands and companies that share that commitment—remains strong."

And get this:

"Around the world, consumers voice a strong desire for marketers to connect their brands to social action. Forty-two percent say that if two products are of the same quality and price, commitment to a social purpose trumps factors like design, innovation and brand loyalty when choosing one brand over the other. Half (52%) of consumers globally are more likely to recommend a brand that supports a good cause over one that does not, and 54% would help a brand promote a product if there was a good cause behind it."

Your company doesn't have to be big to create this win-win situation.

So, what is YOUR brand doing? What's working and what's not?

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Elaine Fogel is president and CMO of Solutions Marketing & Consulting LLC, and a marketing and branding thought leader, speaker, writer, and MarketingProfs contributor. She is the author of the Beyond Your Logo: 7 Brand Ideas That Matter Most for Small Business Success.

LinkedIn: Elaine Fogel

Twitter: @Elaine_Fogel