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  • 17 September 2013
  • Dr. Billy M.

Big ways small businesses can give back to their communities

Giving back to the community is a big part of operating your business in a socially responsible manner, and it can significantly improve your business model. Although big businesses give thousands of dollars to charitable causes, small businesses can also offer community service in ways that have a large impact.

How to give back
Generally, a monetary contribution is the common form of giving back to the community; however, there are many beneficial ways your business can provide time and effort to worthy causes.

1. Encourage employees to volunteer
It costs only time to set aside a day for community service, which may be over a weekend or holiday. Employees can volunteer to visit and play with orphaned children, help paint a room in an elderly person's home, or simply serve and feed children with special needs. You can select the ideal cause by discussing options with your employees so they will be enthusiastic about the choice.

2. Offer your expertise
As a business owner, you have a wealth of knowledge and experience that can be beneficial to the community. Your expertise in business can also be useful to nonprofit institutions. Choose an organization that could use your help and schedule to share at a time that is convenient for you.

3. Hold contests at your workplace
Employees are your biggest asset in your charitable efforts. You can decide to conduct an internal donations race by establishing different teams to compete for cash prizes that go toward a worthy cause. This method works in two ways: it instills teamwork in your staff, and it gives your employees a sense of responsibility for the less fortunate in the community.

4. Change collections and "round ups"
Most customers would gladly donate their change when offered the opportunity and information about the charitable beneficiary. For a brick-and-mortar business, you can have cans at various spots in your store or offices where your customers and visitors can deposit loose change. Ensure that the cans are well labeled to indicate the cause or organization they are supporting. For an online business, you can allow customers to round up their payments so that the difference goes to charity. Again, specify the beneficiary.

5. Upsell on charitable causes
Another way to make donations for a worthy cause is by setting aside a certain percentage of each sale to go to an organization of your choice. This can be done on a regular basis. Alternatively, you can make donations to a single organization or various organizations in a given year. You may also consider making a collection box available to take donations from customers in the form of money, food, or clothing items.

6. Offer future discounts on products
You can offer discounts to customers who donate food or clothing towards a cause you are supporting. The best way to get your customers energetic about this is by providing different percentages on discounts depending on what they donate. This should get the customers excited about giving as much as possible in order to secure substantial discounts in the future.

7. Tweets or likes on social media
One of the simplest ways of supporting a worthy cause is by posting an image on social networks and dedicating a certain amount of money for each like and retweet. Urge your audience to share the image. Depending on how active your audience, who are ideally your customers, becomes, you should be able to come up with a reasonable amount to donate.

Merits of philanthropy
There are many external benefits for businesses engaged in social good. From getting your name out in the community to bringing in new customers, you get to experience increased purchasing behavior and greater customer satisfaction as well as higher employee retention. It all starts with listening to what is happening in your customers' lives and defining ways that you can provide assistance when possible. Here are some salient benefits.

1. Decrease your tax liability. In most cases, your small business will receive a full tax deduction on charitable contributions.

2. Boost your reputation.Philanthropy accords your business positive publicity and reputation, which are essential for success in business. As you contribute to social causes and attract publicity, your visibility will be enhanced, which ultimately affects your sales. Likewise, you can recover from a bad reputation by having the commitment to doing good for the community.

3. Improved client base and motivated employees. Giving back to the community attracts a client base that tends to be better educated and willing to spend an extra dollar because they are aware that it is going back to a good cause. In addition, the success of your small business becomes more important to your team because they are part of an establishment that makes a positive impact on the community. Giving back becomes an incentive for employee loyalty because they know they are working for something bigger than the periodic paycheck.

4. Gain unique advantage. Philanthropy differentiates your company and gives you an edge over the competition. Consumers will look for products and services from those organizations that place equal emphasis on their business and social interests by working to better society. When quality and price are equal, the critical factor influencing brand choice is purpose; thus, being socially responsible sets you apart from competing ventures.

5. Boosts morale.Giving something back to the community feels good; the feeling of reward is apparent and makes the business owner happy. Happy business operators tend to lead successful ventures. Generally, business owners want to see that their enterprise is part of the solution, not part of the problem.

In general, a small business can be part of community service in small ways that can bring about significant changes. Help should be seen not only in monetary terms, but also in the assistance that can be given to those who may not be capable of performing their activities well. When your business gets into the habit of assisting the community, it becomes recognizable by more customers. Customers may want to refer others to your products and services because of the worthy causes you support. Have a schedule on how often you wish to serve in this capacity so the normal activities of your business will not be impacted negatively. 

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