Large companies increased both cash and noncash giving since 2007, with a higher percentage of noncash contributions in 2012 defining the post-recession giving era, according to a report from the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy released Tuesday.

CECP analyzed survey responses from 240 companies whose median revenues were $30 billion in 2012. The survey was conducted in association with The Conference Board.

The report showed that total giving increased for 59% of companies from 2007 to 2012, with 38% of all companies increasing their giving by 25% or more.

Aggregate corporate giving rose by 42% ($4.5 billion) from 2007 to 2012 in inflation-adjusted dollars.

Noncash contributions (including product donations and other services) as a percentage of total contributions grew in aggregate from 57% in 2007 to 69% in 2012. Excluding pharmaceutical companies, which accounted for the majority of noncash giving, all other companies increased noncash giving from 28% of total giving in 2007 to 39% in 2012.

“Noncash giving is defining the new corporate societal engagement,” CECP’s CEO, Daryl Brewster, said in a statement. “This has major implications for NGOs all over the world.”

The report said that since 2007, the percentage of companies offering paid-release time volunteer programs increased from 53% to 70%.

Higher education and K–12 schools combined commanded the largest share (29%) of the typical company’s programmatic allocation. Health and social services programs remained a top focus area across all sectors, with 28% of the allocation in 2012.

Survey respondents cited several reasons for increased corporate giving from 2007 to 2012:

  • Improved profits
  • Combined giving budgets from mergers and acquisitions
  • Growth in corporate foundation endowments because of the rising stock market
  • Excess inventory, which created more products available for donation
  • Launch of new programs that “unlocked” a higher level of giving.

Companies that decreased giving from 2007 to 2012 often reported declining profits as a main reason for reduced contributions. They also cited companywide cost reductions, the return to prior giving levels following a one-time significant gift in the previous year and corporate spinoffs.

Check out Smaller Foundations’ Endowments, Giving Increased Sharply in 2012 on AdvisorOne.