Running your own business is a constant juggling act. From managing financial success to mentoring employees, leading a team, and expanding your network, there’s always something on the to-do list. But in addition to operational upkeep, you might also want to think about how you position your business within the community — after all, your friends and neighbors probably make up a significant portion of your customer base.
If you’re feeling like it’s time for your business to give back in honor of the community that keeps you going, this is the post for you. Let’s take a look at 8 innovative ways your business can continue to engage with, and improve your community.
1. Participate in local charity drives
No matter where you live, your local community is almost bound to have a few annual charity drives at some point throughout the year. Oftentimes, canned food and clothing drives take place in the winter and especially during the holiday season. While you’re decking the halls this December, consider how you and your team can best offer your support to community members in need.
One edge that small businesses have is their connection to community members. Think about it, if you own a grocery store, you likely see your customers on a weekly basis for their grocery trips. These daily interactions give you a lot of influence on fellow givers in your community, so feel free to spread the word and get your customers involved. If you’re able to, you might consider being a drop-off location for a toy drive or canned food collection — it’ll be easy for your staff and customers to participate, you’ll collect way more donations with an on-site drop-off, and you’ll feel great about it too!
2. Offer pro-bono services
If you have the resources to do it, offering your services free of charge is one of the most impactful ways you can give back to your community. Depending on the type of work that you do, you may consider offering help to individuals or non-profit organizations who need some extra support.
Not sure if your organization is fit for it? Check out how these businesses can become pro-bono community activists:
- Legal firms — Offer legal advice to local activists or lobbyists, draft wills and estate plans, help write or edit appeals and requests to lawmakers.
- Printing services — Print free marketing materials, protest signs, or informational pamphlets for non-profit programs.
- Marketing — Offer marketing advice, help with social media management, or amplify platforms on your own network.
- Coffee shop — Donate coffee at volunteer events or offer to host activist meetings.
- IT —Perform routine maintenance on computer systems to ensure nothing gets in the way of their commitment to the cause.
3. Mentor students
Embarking on a career path can be an intimidating and seemingly impossible thing to do when you’re young, just think back to the humble beginnings of your job search! To show your appreciation to your community, teachers, advisors, and employers, consider taking a student under your wing. Whether it’s providing resume and cover letter advice or offering seasonal internships, there are tons of ways you can help support young professionals in your community. To get started, get in touch with your local school district and see what kind of mentorship opportunities are available.
4. Sponsor a community event
Another great way to show up for your community is by sponsoring a community event. There are several ways this can be done, just take a look at these creative examples:
- Offer up your space free of charge
- Pay for WiFi at the event
- Sponsor facilities, food, or drink
- Assist with marketing dollars
- Donate prizes
- Provide tools like an appointment scheduler to help host the event
5. Organize a staff volunteer day
Every small business owner knows that profit margins can be pretty narrow, especially when you’re just getting started. If you’re not in a position to donate cash, no problem! Volunteering your time is another fantastic way of showing up for your community.
Take it a step further by getting your staff involved — close up shop for a day and choose an organization to volunteer with. This is not only a rewarding charitable experience, but it can also be great for team bonding, too. Another great way to encourage your team to get involved is by giving them the opportunity to volunteer for a certain amount of hours each year without sacrificing their work hours.
6. Uplift other small businesses
Getting involved with local non-profits is a really impactful way of supporting your community, but the good deeds shouldn’t stop there. Show your support for other business owners in your neighborhood by partnering up with them and helping them spread the word. Share their posts on social media agency, host them for pop-up events, introduce them to your customer base, a little help goes a long way — remember how challenging it was to get your biz off the ground?
7. Hire community members in-need
That old adage of teaching a man to fish can really prove to be powerful these days, especially in such a difficult job market. If you are looking to hire soon, consider how you can help out your community as you search for the right person for the role. There are tons of organizations out there that help place marginalized citizens in jobs, which can be a win-win when you’re looking to hire.
8. Use your voice
As a small business owner, people in your community may look up to you more than you’d think. Having such a strong influence over your community can be a really powerful tool if you use it to enact positive change. Stay up to date on things happening right in your backyard, your state, and your country and consider how your organization can make a difference in a way that’s authentic to your values and mission.
Yes, consumers care about great customer service, a stellar product, and helpful staff members, but they also want to see your company doing good. Whether you use your voice, your wallet, or your time, remember, there are plenty of ways you can give back to the community that helps your business grow. Use these tips to help you find innovative ways to show up, and don’t forget to share your experience with us in the comment section below.