How your small business can give back to the community

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You don’t have to be a JSE-listed company with a budget in the millions to make a difference for your favourite charity or those in need. Investing in your community will not only give you a warm, fuzzy feeling, but also benefit your business in numerous ways.

Giving back is a way to establish your business within your local community, improve its reputation and give it more visibility. In addition, it’s a wonderful way to enrich the work experience for your team. It’s also your contribution towards building a more equitable and sustainable society.

Six ways to give back to your local community

Whatever your motivation, here are six ways to use your business to give back to your local community:

  1. Donate your skills
  2. Host a volunteer day for employees
  3. Offer donation matching
  4. Share your space
  5. Highlight a local organisation
  6. Plug a charity or community organisation into your business network

Are you ready to start making a difference for both your business and your local community? Read on!

1. Donate your skills

If you run a service-based business, look to pro bono work for ways to give back. If you’re an interior decorator, consider lending a few hours of your time to the local sports centre to help them decorate their space. Are you an accountant? Why not help a local charity do their books and manage the payroll?

As a product-based business, the skills you share might be related more generally to running a business. Did you build your e-commerce website? You could help a non-profit organisation to create a website that makes it easy for people to give donations by credit card, using friendly tools such as GoDaddy Website Builder. Or you could mentor a social enterprise in the basics of business management, finance and marketing.

2. Host a volunteer day for employees

Get your employees involved. Volunteering together is a bonding experience and helps your team feel part of a purpose beyond profit. You could work together to renovate a local homeless shelter, mentor jobseekers at a community centre near an informal settlement. You could take some time to offer maths and science tuition to children at disadvantaged schools.

Kids Raising Hands

3. Offer donation matching

Choose a local charity, or have your employees vote on one, and offer to match any donations from your employees or your customers to a specific amount to that organisation. To encourage participation, create a visual where everyone can see how much employees have contributed.

4. Share your space

If your business has physical spaces like gardens and meeting rooms, allow a non-profit to use it for free. This can save your non-profit partner a fortune in venue hire for fundraising events or meetings. It’s a win-win because it gives your brand some visibility, too.

5. Highlight a local organisation

Have a designated day or evening where you donate a percentage of your proceeds to a specific local charity. Are you a barber? Host a day when you donate R10 to a local school for each child you give a haircut. Do you own a restaurant? Plan a night where you donate a meal to a local shelter for every R200 on a customer’s bill.

Advertise the event with fliers ahead of time at your business and on social media to draw attention. This benefits your business and the organisation you are helping. You might also see an increase in sales as that organisation encourages people in its network to support your business.

Another way to highlight your favourite charity is to offer everyone who checks out a basket on your e-commerce site the opportunity to make a small donation. Also, be sure to talk about your community partnerships in your website blog, e-mail newsletters, social media and other channels so your customers learn about the charities and causes that matter to you.

6. Plug a charity or community organisation into your business network

Charities and communities thrive when they are well connected with people who can provide them with the services and money they need to keep operating. One of the biggest favours you can do for a charity is to connect it to someone who is willing and able to help.

If you are working with a creche for children from poor homes that needs to upgrade its classrooms, why not connect it to your building contractor? Perhaps you can help a school that needs support for its computer lab by introducing the principal to your IT reseller.

Make a difference

There are many non-profit companies who need assistance, but for small businesses, it often makes sense for those in their immediate community. This gives you the opportunity to see first-hand how your contributions are helping. What’s more, a little bit of money or time can often make a huge difference for small, community NPOs.

No matter how you decide to use your business to give back, you can have a long-lasting impact on your community while building a positive reputation. Every bit helps, whether you buy kit for a school soccer team or donate a few hours of your skills to a charity.

This article has been adapted from an original piece by Bev Feldman.

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