Many big banks have been stepping up their philanthropic efforts, zeroing in on economic development and health and human services to combat the devastating effects of the recession — but not necessarily with dollars.

Strapped for cash as their profits plummeted during the financial crisis, many financial institutions were forced to cut back on their charitable giving. Citigroup Inc. cut its philanthropic funds by 32% in 2009, a year in which its net losses totaled $1.6 billion.

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