By Rieva Lesonsky

87647750One of the biggest marketing trends this year is tying in buying with the idea of giving  something back.

MarketingDaily recently wrote about the trend of big retailers, including Macy’s, J.C. Penney and Wal-Mart, launching socially responsible marketing campaigns. Macy’s is urging customers to write letters to Santa in stores, and will donate $1 per letter to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The retailer has dubbed December 11 “National Believe Day,” and will “recognize and reward acts of kindness and generosity from coast to coast.”

JC Penney plans to launch an online partnership with the Salvation Army to create an online angel giving-tree program. Online customers can find someone’s wish list, buy the gifts and have them shipped to the Salvation Army. And Wal-Mart is focusing on food this year; it will provide $32 million in monetary and in-kind donations to charitable organizations nationwide, in partnership with Feeding America and Meals On Wheels.

You don’t have to own a huge corporation, of course, to give back to those in need. How about holding a sale day where a certain percentage or dollar amount of each sale goes to a cause? Or spotlighting a few items and giving $1 for each item purchased to a worthy charity?

In an economy where consumers still feel guilty about buying things (even if they can afford them), giving them a way to do some good while they buy is a good way to make them feel better about buying. What can your business do to help people in need this year? Making doing good part of how you do business is smart business this time of year.