Running a small business doesn’t leave you much time or money to spare for philanthropy. Investing in your local community, and facilitating opportunities for your staff to do likewise, can however be a judicious move.
Ask any marketing consultant: getting involved in voluntary work or donating time, money and effort to charitable causes can be a crucial part of a marketing strategy. In large companies this is recognised and termed CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), but the concept is just as important and valuable for small business.
There’s no simpler or more worthy way of grabbing attention than by helping others. With an altruistic attitude you and your business will not only develop valuable relationships in the community, but also gain recognition for your brand product or service.
Another bonus for your business engendered by demonstrating social benevolence could be in the field of recruitment. It’s become increasingly clear in recent years that the “bright young things” out there job-seeking are more drawn to firms that display a sense of social responsibility. (A study conducted by GreenBiz found that Millennial employees prefer to work for leaders they admire in companies that exemplify good CSR practices.)
The icing on the cake is that you will undoubtedly enjoy the experience – and there is plenty of evidence that helping others is good for your health!
Choose a local project, cause or charity which appeals to you (and your employees) and think about how you can contribute in a meaningful way. The by-product of your efforts will be all sorts of benefits for your business.
You could perhaps pass on your particular skills in the form of lessons for underprivileged youngsters; you could organise a fund-raising event for a worthy cause close to your heart; donate part of the proceeds of a particular product to charity; or sponsor a local sports team.
Ongoing and physical involvement with a charitable cause, such as volunteering your skills and time, is more valuable intrinsically on both a personal and business level than just making a cash donation.
By giving back to the community you will be demonstrating your trustworthy morals and values, as well as the people skills that are so important for a successful entrepreneur. This will help you make new contacts who are potential customers or investors, building your reputation and standing in the community.
Involvement in local projects – or even taking part in national ones – leads to free PR. If you make sure your efforts are conveyed to the media there are chances to put your company name, logo, and website “out there” on display. It’s also a great opportunity to post and share your activities on social media.
There is no need to feel you are being mercenary by “milking” your philanthropic efforts for publicity or kudos. After all, it’s a fair trade off – your business is benefiting and so is the cause you support.
Is your business giving back? If not, why not make a new year resolution to put it on the agenda for the coming year? It’s a win-win situation.