Yes, dividend investing is popular. And it may become more popular if Congress extends legislation that maintains the low tax rate on corporate payouts for next year and beyond. A great place to look for dividend stalwarts is among those companies that have successfully paid out cash for decades.

The authoritative list of Dividend Champions is compiled by the DRiP Investing Resource Center annually and features those companies that have increased dividends for more than 25 years straight. The latest list details about 100 companies that have met the center's criteria, and these companies need not be part of the S&P 500 in order to qualify, unlike the Dividend Aristocrats index. So you won't see all the usual large- and mid-cap names that usually dominate such lists.

Below I highlight the 25 highest-yielding Dividend Champions in rank order:

Company

Dividend Yield

Number of Years

Investors Real Estate Trust (Nasdaq: IRET)

7.8%

39

CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL)

6.7%

37

Pitney Bowes (NYSE: PBI)

6.7%

28

Altria (NYSE: MO)

6.3%

42

AT&T (NYSE: T)

6.1%

26

Washington REIT (NYSE: WRE)

5.7%

39

Old Republic (NYSE: ORI)

5.5%

29

Vectren Corp. (NYSE: VVC)

5.3%

51

Cincinnati Financial (Nasdaq: CINF)

5.3%

50

Leggett & Platt (NYSE: LEG)

5.2%

39

Consolidated Edison (NYSE: ED)

4.9%

36

Black Hills Corp. (NYSE: BKH)

4.7%

40

Universal Corp. (NYSE: UVV)

4.7%

40

Bowl America Class A (NYSE: BWL-A)

4.7%

38

United Bankshares (Nasdaq: UBSI)

4.7%

37

Community Trust Bancorp (Nasdaq: CTBI)

4.4%

30

Kimberly Clark (NYSE: KMB)

4.3%

38

Middlesex Water (Nasdaq: MSEX)

4.2%

38

WGL Holdings (NYSE: WGL)

4.2%

34

RPM International (NYSE: RPM)

4.1%

37

Nucor (NYSE: NUE)

3.8%

37

Piedmont Natural Gas (NYSE: PNY)

3.8%

32

Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT)

3.8%

38

Connecticut Water Service (Nasdaq: CTWS)

3.7%

41

MGE Energy (Nasdaq: MGEE)

3.6%

34

Source: Dripinvesting.org. Based on Nov. 30 stock price.

Given their strong track records, these stocks are a great place to begin your research, but they're not formal recommendations. High yields could be time bombs, and that really attractive high yield could suddenly die. So investigate such companies thoroughly and diversify across sectors, no matter how delicious that dividend looks.

For a basket of some high-yield some dividend opportunities, click here to get The Motley Fool's five-page free report: 13 High-Yielding Stocks to Buy Today.

Jim Royal, Ph.D., does not own shares in any company mentioned. Kimberly Clark and Piedmont Natural Gas are Motley Fool Income Investor picks. Nucor is a Stock Advisor choice. The Fool owns shares of Nucor and Altria. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.