Local business is all about community, and what better way of promoting the importance of community than charity. Local businesses thrive because of their community’s loyalty and dedication, so it is of the upmost importance that businesses participate in charity work and promote their dedication to their surrounding communities.
What difference can philanthropy make, and is it worth a small business’ time? Companies that encourage community involvement distinguish themselves from their competitors. People want to see their own communities thrive, and they also want to build relationships with businesses and brands. If your small business can give back and earn a customer following, why wouldn’t you? Helping others, while gaining community exposure, is truly a win-win for all.
Research shows that giving back has powerful effects. 89% of entrepreneurs donate money, both personally and through their companies, according to a study by Ernst & Young and the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund. What’s more, 62% say giving back makes their companies more successful in the long run (Fidelity Charitable, 2010).
Want to start a philanthropic effort through your small business but don’t know where to start? Follow these tips to hit the ground running.
Build relationships within your community.
- Look at your community to see what’s important. Are the schools struggling? Does the animal shelter need donations? etc.
- Building relationships start by making genuine connections with your customers. Start conversations with them and try to learn a little bit about everyone who comes into your store!
- The community is where your business operates, and improving this environment adds to the value of your product or service and increases the quality of life for everyone in the environment.
Get your employees on board.
- Giving employees an avenue to give back is important for morale and builds a collaborative and inspired team.
- If your employees love what they’re doing and feel like they’re making a difference, work ethic and attitudes are bound to improve.
- Volunteering also provides leadership opportunities for employees, which leads to increased staff performance, fulfillment and, ultimately, increased productivity and sales
Let customers know how you’re giving back.
- “I’ve found that customers really want to know how you’re making the world a better place,” says Erin Giles, an Aiken, S.C.-based business philanthropy consultant who helps entrepreneurs find causes they’re passionate about and incorporate their message into their business (Lavine, 2013).
- Moms and Millennials are particularly interested in a business’ corporate social responsibility platform, Giles says (Lavine, 2013).
- Don’t be afraid to brag about your philanthropic initiatives. Post notices around your business and your community to let people know about your efforts and encourage others to get involved.
Some suggestions on how to give back:
- Churches, little league sports leagues, local chapters of the Red Cross and Salvation Army, Boys & Girls Clubs, donations to scholarship funds, sponsorship of a local sports team, etc.
- Spreading good will establishes your business as the neighborhood do-gooder and community leader.
Big or small, giving back can only benefit your business and your community positively. Reach out to those who need a helping hand and broaden your appeal at the same time. Remember to be creative and have fun with whatever philanthropy you choose to pursue. It’s sure to bring a smile to someone’s face!
Lavine, Lindsay. “The Power of Giving Back: How Community Involvement Can Boost Your Bottom Line.” Entrepreneur Magazine. 26 June 2013. <http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/226974>.
“Entrepreneurs are More Likely to Give to Charity.” Fidelity Charitable. 12 Nov. 2010. <http://www.fidelitycharitable.org/about-us/news/11-12-2010.shtml>.