As a small business owner, giving back to the community is not only the right thing to do, it can also help your business grow. Consumers and B2B buyers alike are paying more attention to whether or not the companies they buy from are socially responsible. This trend is especially pronounced among millennials: More than 83 percent of them think businesses should be involved in social causes.
If your business already supports charitable causes, the holidays are a natural time to step up your efforts. If you aren't currently giving back to the community, there are plenty of opportunities to start now. Here are five ways your small business can give back this holiday season.
- Give money. Donating cash to a cause is an easy way to make a difference, but with so many organizations seeking donations at the holidays, watch out for scams. To be sure the group you're donating to is a legitimate organization, check out CharityNavigator.org, which also breaks down what percentage of the money raised actually goes to the clients and how much is spent on administration.
- Give products or services. If cash is tight right now at your business, you can still help a cause by donating your company's products or services to an organization. If your e-commerce site sells women's clothing and accessories, why not donate last season’s unsold merchandise to organizations that help low-income or abused women? Those pantsuits you couldn’t move last fall could be just the thing to help homeless women "dress for success" at job interviews. You can also donate your services. For example, a power-washing company could volunteer to help local organizations spruce up homes of elderly residents who can't do it themselves, or to clean the kennels at the city's animal shelter.
- Give some of your profits. Hold a one-day sale and give a percentage of all that day's profits to charity. Or spotlight a particular product and give a percentage of all that product’s sales throughout the season to charity.
- Give a party. If there’s a cause that’s especially close to your heart, why not host a fund-raising event for the organization? See if other local businesses are interested in getting involved, too. If hosting your own event sounds too overwhelming, look for a local community event that you can sponsor or participate in.
- Give your employees a choice. Your staff members probably have their own personal causes, whether it's autism or Alzheimer's research. Try giving everyone on your team some time off to volunteer for their organization, or donate a certain amount money in each employee's name.
No matter how you choose to give back, be sure to:
- Encourage your customers to get involved. Promote your charitable efforts on social media and your website and invite your customers to be part of the action.
- Share your story. Take photos and/or videos at charitable events you host or volunteer for, and post them on social media and your website. You'll spread awareness not only of your business’s socially responsible stance, but also of the organizations you're trying to help.
- Talk to your accountant. Whether you’re donating products, services, profits or cash, make sure you understand the tax deductions and other financial ramifications involved before you give.