winter thoughtsDecember is a time when we often think about how we’ve been blessed, and how we’ve been challenged.  However you celebrate the holiday season, I hope you are able to take some time to reflect and also to enjoy the people in your lives!

This time of year you don’t need to look too hard to find families and individuals struggling to put food on the table and pay their bills. The nonprofit sector is reporting that the need for services has risen sharply. So much so that many of these nonprofits can scarcely keep up with the demand for services. That’s why they depend so heavily on corporate benevolence.

Recently, the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy released its 2009 edition of Giving in Numbers, an annual report on corporate giving trends drawn from 137 of the most prominent global corporations including 55 of the Fortune 100.

You would think that in tough economic times we’d see less corporate giving. But the Giving In Numbers data shows that a majority of companies increased giving this year despite 68% experiencing profit declines. In other words, companies are committed to maintaining their philanthropic values–but they have to dig a little deeper to do it.

In my line of work I study trends and I can tell you that corporate giving is increasingly becoming more proactive and strategic, signifying a closer alignment between a company’s competitive strengths and the selection of organizations that make a good fit with the corporate culture. Poll results show that CEOs and giving officers are devoted to fulfilling pre-existing commitments to grantees while working to more closely integrate philanthropic strategy with company-wide business objectives.

Employees sense the true heart of their leaders, and when a business repeatedly commits to meeting needs, employees will rise to the occasion as well. The data backs that up: Non-cash giving surged among companies that increased giving.

I am so thankful that despite adverse economic conditions, corporations are continuing to invest in sustainable change solutions for what matters the most: People. Commitment to measurement and sharing of best practices will be critical in 2010 as the corporate sector continues to address societal problems in partnership with public and non-profit entities.

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