The adage that it is better to give than to receive, a corruption of "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Acts 20:35, is a difficult principle to follow for anyone in charge of corporate giving in a recession.
The return on investment of corporate philanthropy is hard to measure and even harder to justify to shareholders at the best of times, and when profits are down, giving gets harder.
When I started viewing philanthropic dollars as a strategic tool to build brand loyalty, the corporations I was working with began to see a return on their philanthropic dollars in the form of better government relations, more effective public relations, improvements in internal culture and noticeable growth in consumer trust in the brand.
Give money and you leave an impression. In this economy, people can't remember an ad, let alone which corporation gave what to whom. But they can, and do, remember people who helped them in a crunch.
Additionally, recently published literature indicates that a corporation's philanthropy can make a distinct difference to consumer trust in the brand especially with consumers between the ages of 20 and 34.
[Excerpt of article by Dr. Mary E. Donohue, Financial Post ]