Small or large, your business owes a lot to your community. You’re trying to provide the people around you with something they want or need, and they’re rewarding you with their business.
No matter what it is you sell, it never hurts to get along with the locals — a positive reputation leads to better word-of-mouth awareness and more business. Plus, it’s just a nice thing to do. Here are some ideas for how to share the love with the people around you.
Donate Your Services To A Local Non-Profit
Look around and find a local non-profit that’s doing good work, and offer to help them out. It doesn’t really matter what it is you do — if you make sandwiches, offer to cater lunch for free. If you wash windows, offer to clean up their storefront. If you do marketing work, offer to help them get their social media accounts up and running pro bono.
Sponsor A Community Organization
No matter where in the country you are, there’s no shortage of classrooms that need school supplies, youth sports leagues that need equipment, or libraries that need extra hands to help out. Sponsor a local team or school — it’ll help out an organization that really needs it and it’ll show the community that you care about the neighborhood you’re in.
Donate Some Of Your Proceeds
Another great way to help out is to partner with a local non-profit to pledge a portion of your earnings to charity. They’ll be extremely grateful for your regular contributions, and your example will likely inspire others to give as well. In return, you’ll get a regular mention in their promotional materials and the satisfaction of putting your profits to good use.
Encourage Your Employees To Give Back
There are several ways to incentivize your employees to get more involved in their local communities. You could start by offering paid time off — one or two extra days a month — provided the time is spent volunteering for a local non-profit. You can offer a grant stipend, where employees are given an annual bonus that they can donate to a charity of their choice.
Some businesses are even getting into the micro-loan business. Organizations like Kiva allow you to make small loans — as low as $25 — to help people around the world or right in your backyard get on their feet. Almost 97% of loans are paid back, so you can lend the money again and again. Offering employees a few hundred dollars to get started on Kiva is powerful motivation to get them involved in charitable giving.
Give Bonuses To Charity
Set metrics and goals for your team to reach. If they do, instead of giving them a monetary bonus, donate that amount to charity. That way, you create a company culture of giving and foster an environment of friendly competition where everyone wins.
You can even incentivize that contest in other ways. If your team meets its goals, in addition to the donation you give to charity in their name, they’re allowed to go business casual for the rest of the quarter, or they get an extra vacation day.
Lead By Example
If leadership puts an emphasis on the good work they do — hours spent volunteering, working for local non-profits, money donated to charitable causes — the rest of the company will follow. Share your stories and encourage your employees to share the causes they’re passionate about. Offer to cover the costs of entry in fun runs and other charity events.
Having the support of your community is essential to running a successful business. Helping others isn’t just the right thing to do, it will create opportunities and open doors that you may not have had access to before. Giving back is a powerful tool — give it a shot!