This article was updated in December 2022.
Making charitable giving a priority isn’t just for big corporations with abundant resources. In fact, small businesses are uniquely positioned to make a significant impact in their communities. That’s because small businesses are arguably more closely linked to their neighbours than, say, a big-box store. You’re more acutely affected by the ups and downs of the local economy. Plus, your success is often dependent on the financial health and well-being of your neighbours.
Businesses that make giving back a priority are also more attractive to consumers. Millennials and Gen Z want to support businesses with values that match their own.
Here are some ideas for launching (or expanding) your own giving program.
1. Host a charity drive.
Team up with a local organization, like a food pantry or a women’s shelter. Then put out a call to customers to bring in needed items for a percentage off their purchase. Make sure to get the word out through in-store signage and social media so that your customers are aware of the event.
Starting with a supply drive can be a great way to begin a relationship with a nonprofit, which you can hopefully grow with other events and collaborations in the future.
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2. Start an employee volunteer program.
Hiring employees who value community infuses your company’s culture with a charity-oriented mindset.
Encourage your staff to pursue their passion for helping others by starting a program that allows them flexible hours a few times a month to leave early or come in later while they volunteer with a local nonprofit. You can even up the ante by donating a designated amount when your employees have volunteered a certain number of hours there.
3. Donate your skills and services.
One of the most effective ways to give back to your community is by doing what you do best. For example, if you operate a salon, team up with an organization that helps men and women develop job skills by donating haircuts to help people prepare to go on interviews. Or, if you operate a bar and restaurant, partner with a local college or high school to offer internships or host informational events for students who might be interested in pursuing a career in the culinary world.
There are endless possibilities when it comes to putting your expertise into action. So think about your strengths and reach out to local organizations to put your team’s skills into action.
4. Support other local businesses.
You know how challenging it can be to own a small business, so team up with entrepreneurs in your area to concentrate your efforts on helping each other and the community. Think about ways that you can work together. For example, consider sourcing items like rolls and buns from a nearby bakery if you own a restaurant. You could also source produce and proteins from local farms and stock beer from a local brewery or spirits from a local distiller.
5. Offer up your space for events.
Nonprofits often operate on extremely tight budgets, so when they want to throw a fundraising event, they rely on donations, especially for venues.
For example, you could team up with a local animal rescue group and invite them to bring some of their adoptable pups into your store, and you could pledge to donate a percentage of proceeds from that day’s sales to the shelter. Not only will you be helping them out, but it’s a cost-effective way to market your own business in the process.