By Karen Axelton

Has your company cut back on charitable giving since the recession hit? Many small businesses have. In one survey done about this time last year, 60 percent of respondents said the economic downturn had cut into their charitable contributions.

As we head into the second holiday season of the “great Recession,” America’s charities need more help than ever, not less. And that’s where you as a small-business owner can come in.

Most small-business owners do believe giving is important, but not many have a specific plan for making donations. Often, they select organizations randomly, based on their personal interests or connections.

Targeting your giving can help not only your recipient, but also your business. When you have limited funds, making sure that your company’s giving is consistent, focused and aligned with your business goals is more important than ever.

If you just can’t spare the cash to give to charity right now, you and your staff can still help by volunteering your time to a cause. Or consider donating products or services rather than money. The downturn has left most business owners with some downtime. Using that time to help the less fortunate is an idea that pays off in plenty of ways beyond the financial.