Corporate donations to charities fell by more than a quarter last year, a new study has found.
Fundraising Ireland revealed that over the Christmas period alone companies handed more than half a million euro less, an 11% drop, compared to a 4.3% decline in the number of donations from the general public.
The association for professional fundraisers warned that the figures were worrying as the festive period is a crucial time to collect money for the most vulnerable.
Chief executive Anne Hanniffy said: "Charities and Fundraising Ireland fully understand how tough the economic climate is for businesses.
"Even taking this into account, however, we are concerned about the size of the drop in corporate donations over the past year, particularly when compared to the smaller drop in general public donations.
"We are keen to work with businesses and corporations to explore how they can stay actively involved in the charity sector during this time of crisis."
The research, carried out by Behaviour & Attitudes, compared the levels of donations received by charities during the key Christmas appeal period in 2012 with rates from the previous year. A total of 26 out of a sample of 54 different charities responded.
It found general public donations held up strongly, with nearly 300,000 people digging deep (down 4.3%). Ms Hanniffy said Christmas income, which totalled just over nine million euros, fell by just under 1% and indicated that people who continue to be able to donate are more generous.
"If businesses cannot afford the large one-off annual donations they used to make, perhaps there are other things they can do to help charities, like staff giving, planned giving or cause-related marketing," she said. "Corporate philanthropy and giving is critical to the lifeblood of Irish charitable work."
The data were published ahead of a Fundraising Ireland seminar for Ireland's leading charity bosses.