As a small business owner, you’re likely to be more closely tied to your community and its needs than a large corporation in your area would be. You may want to make a statement of your loyalty to your neighborhood by participating in the life of your town and giving back to your community. Small-business corporate giving can make a real difference both to your immediate neighborhood and to your business.
Ways Your Small Business Can Give Back
When you give back to your community, very often you also end up benefiting your business. Make a real connection by looking for ideas that suit your personal passions, and then throw your resources toward them. Ideas include:
- Hire an intern. If you’re near a local college, consider giving an intern a chance to build work experience. You get to help a young entrepreneur get started, and you win because you get some inexpensive (or even free) help around your workplace.
- Donate a portion of profits to local organizations. If you create or distribute a specific type of product, it’s typically easy for you to promote that product to your customers when you make charitable donations. For example, donate profits from your sales of workout wear to the local YMCA, where your customers may realize they could actually use some new workout wear themselves — or clear your inventory by donating products to people who can use them.
- Sponsor a local team or event. Team sports need local sponsors to stay alive. When you sponsor a kids’ soccer or baseball team, your business name gets printed on signs and uniforms, giving you free publicity while letting the community know that you care. Sponsoring a concert, school fundraiser, race, or other local event also puts your business in the public eye in a positive way.
- Offer targeted discounts. Consider offering discounts to senior citizens or veterans as a way of saying thank you. They’re likely to show their own thanks by remaining loyal to your business. You can also offer short-term discounts and special offers that are tied to specific holidays such as Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, reaping some promotional benefits as well.
- Go green. When you reduce your carbon footprint and go out of your way to recycle, you give back not just to your community but to the entire world. Some of your customers will be happy to turn their business your way when they learn you’ve made a commitment to the environment through, for example, using recycled paper products in your casual diner.
Benefits to Your Small Business of Charitable Giving
Your business can benefit greatly from even small donations and in-kind givebacks to your community. Many donation opportunities provide an opening for you to put your name in front of the community, and the publicity you receive from being associated with charitable organizations is always positive. As you reach out to various local schools, churches, and other nonprofit organizations and causes, you also expand your sphere of association, allowing you to network with people with whom you might not otherwise know.
Charitable giving also has internal benefits, since it gives your employees another reason to feel proud that they work for you. Consider asking employees for suggestions about worthy local causes to donate to or get involved with so they can feel like coming to work benefits the causes they care about. As your donations become known around the community, you may find that your company gets a reputation as a great place to work because of the commitment you’ve made to your community.
Charitable giving allows you to have a positive effect on your community while also burnishing your reputation and attracting new customers. Merging your company interests with the common good is a winning business model for everybody.