More and more businesses these days are finding ways to give back to their community through philanthropy, through pro-bono work, through employee-volunteer incentives, or product/service donations to raise money, and increasingly finding that the more they reach out to help their communities, the more rewards they are reaping.
The Benefits of Giving Back
Research shows that giving back is important to small business (according to a study by Ernst & Young and the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund):
- 89% of entrepreneurs donate money, both personally and through their companies, with women-owned businesses leading the charge.
- 62% say giving back makes their companies more successful in the long run.
- 82% of U.S. consumers consider corporate social responsibility (CSR) when deciding which products or services to buy and where to shop (according to a May 2013 study by Cone Communications and Echo Research).
Besides the financial or ROI benefits to your business, giving back to your community helps your local economy, businesses and residents to grow, thrive and give back as well. Giving back can also be a great networking tools, as you will meet new contacts, strengthen your ties to the community, and broadens your network community. Be a responsible corporate citizen, will also enhance the face of your business, thus improving on your overall brand.
“I’ve found that customers really want to know how you’re making the world a better place,” says Erin Giles, a business philanthropy consultant who helps entrepreneurs find causes they’re passionate about and incorporate their message into their business.
Other personal benefits include improved social skills, increased self-confidence, reduced risk of depression, opportunities for physical fitness, new friendships and an overall sense of accomplishment.
Many Ways to Give Back
The challenge for small businesses is finding adequate time and resources to give back, as SBO’s are usually deficit in both. However, there are meaningful ways to give back that don’t involve shelling out lots of money or spending days working on pro-bono projects.
- Host a Employee-Volunteer Day: You and your staff can spend the day volunteering for a worthy cause (Habitat for Humanity, Humane Society, Women Based Causes like the Liberty House, Hope’s Wings or NOSW). You may be losing a day of productivity but its proven that activities outside the office boost morale and camaraderie among employees.
- Offer a Collection: If you have a storefront, showcase your local charity at your front desk or checkout counter so employees are able to donate spare change or few dollars to that cause.
- Sit on a Non-Profit Board: Offer your business expertise and industry experience to a local nonprofit organization. Most board meetings are held only monthly so the time required is limited, and most work needed to promote their cause can be done after hours or during slow periods of your workday.
- Contribute to a Charity Auction or Contest: Offer a gift certificate for your product or service, a gift basket, or donated product to help your chosen cause raise money. Not only will your company’s name be advertised and announced, you will gain at least one new customer.
- Bring awareness through Social Media or your Website/Blog: Want to promote a cause that you feel invested in? Write a blog about, add their logo (as an image link) on your website, and use your extensive following on your social media pages to introduce them to your fans/followers.
- Utilize your Networking Groups to Give Back as a Group: If you are truly limited on time, staff or funds, reach out to local organizations who already have committees in place to support those in need. For example, if you are a Chamber of Commerce member, or a member of the many other local business organization, you can support their charitable events and efforts by joining the committee, attending an event and help organize a fund-drive. Even as a small piece of a larger movement, you are still making a difference.
Startup Production Giving Back
Startup Production has been privileged to be a part of several non-profit organization’s development and growth:
- Richmond KY Chamber of Commerce – Member
- Marketing Committee Co-Chair, Blog contributor
- Volunteered for Educational workshop: “Internet Strategies for the Hospitality Industry” on May 23, 2013.
- Commerce Lexington (Chamber of Commerce) – Member
- Downtown Richmond Association – Marketing Committee Member
- Pro-bono work for development and maintenance of their Website, blog contributor, and various print material design.
- NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners) – Member
- Technology and PR Committees
- Volunteered for Workshop: “The Benefits of a Small Business Website” in 2010.
- Technical Consultant
- Habitat for Humanity of Madison Clark Counties
- Partial Pro-bono for development of website; and pro-bono monthly volunteer (Website, Blog, Email Marketing Consultant)
- CEDET of EKU
- Participated in Educational Workshop: “Get your Business Online FREE Event” on June 25, 2013
- Bluegrass SBDC of Lexington, KY
- Volunteered for Educational Workshop: “A Successful Web Presence for the Small Business” on September 30, 2013
- Women Leading KY – 2013-14 Gold Sponsor
- In-Kind work for development and maintenance of their new website (launched July 22, 2013), print material design for Roundtables and Conference advertising.