Among the causes a company might support, which seem most urgent to consumers? A Wirthlin Worldwide poll sheds some indirect light on the issue. When people were given a list of causes and asked to rate them, 78 percent said “improving children’s literacy” is extremely important. Seventy-seven percent said the same of “curing chronic diseases, like cancer and heart disease.” Fewer accorded such status to “protecting the environment” (61 percent), “building stronger communities throughout our nation” (57 percent), “helping the poor” (56 percent), “preventing smoking” (47 percent)and “increasing America’s stock of affordable housing” (42 percent). If people expect companies to be philanthropic even in lean times, perhaps it’s because they themselves are. Asked whether they’d given money to a charitable or non-profit organization in 2002 (apart from their church or temple), 72 percent said they had. Of these, 63 percent said they gave as much in 2002 as the year before, 16 percent said they gave more, and 13 percent said they gave less.
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