Updated January 1, 1 . AmFam Team
Does your town’s youth baseball team wear jerseys emblazoned with the name of the local hardware store? Did you donate a coat at the neighborhood coffee shop to receive a free latte? Maybe you paid admission at the community theater with canned goods to be donated to the local food pantry. For small businesses, that’s what giving back to the community looks like.
Jim Blasingame, the award-winning host of radio’s “The Small Business Advocate Show” and author of The Age of the Customer, says small businesses in America are the societal, economic, and leadership shoulders that America stands on. “Talk about grassroots,” he says. “We’re planted in the ground. And everywhere in America, it’s automatic, fall-off-a-log for small business owners to give back to the communities.”
When entrepreneurs find creative ways to give back, the impact can be positive for the giver and the recipient. If you’re interested in building a better world around you, check out these five ways your small business can uplift the community.
Offer services pro bono to local nonprofits. Many community-based organizations operate on a shoestring budget with a limited staff. Look for areas where your business can lend a hand.
For example, an accounting firm can volunteer to help the nonprofit cut costs and ensure it has a balanced ledger.
Provide mentoring or internships. Share your knowledge. Mentor other business owners to create a stronger business community. Employ high school and college students as paid interns, providing on-the-job training for them and cost-effective labor for your business.
Support a charity. Instead of just writing a check to donate to a particular cause or organization, challenge each employee to give 10 hours of their time during a 30-day period to their chosen activity: reading to hospitalized children, hosting bingo or card games at the senior citizen’s center, walking or bathing animals at the animal shelter, or serving meals at the soup kitchen. At the end of 30 days, calculate the cost of the employees’ volunteer hours based on their hourly wage. Then match or double that total as the company donation to the cause or organization. Behavioral support plus a financial contribution equals a solid win for your company and the community.
Sponsor an elementary class. Many school districts could benefit from a greater budget for school supplies. Inquire at the nearest elementary school about your company purchasing paper, pens, pencils and other needed supplies for one or two classrooms for the school year. What a great financial way to support the community—and maybe attract new customers.
Upgrade your community’s tech skills. Technology is deeply woven into the fabric of our lives. Your technology staff can team up with the local library to teach kids and teens how to code or show a stay-at-home mom how to build a website for her home business.
For small businesses, giving back to the community—financially or in behavioral ways—is the right thing to do and it’s good for business. The implementation of a strategic giving plan can have long-lasting and wide-ranging effects on your community. Invest in the people and causes that are important to your business to build a stronger community and watch your enterprise grow. Here’s more on donation of corporate profits, with details on why giving back is such a great idea.