July 11, 2023 By Kristin Woodward

According to a recent survey by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, even though small businesses continue to be concerned about the economy, most still give back to their communities. Indeed, as many as 80% say giving back is a key part of their mission. 

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The small businesses who participated in the survey say that they engaged with their communities in these popular ways:

  • 70% encouraged employees to shop at local small businesses.
  • 66% donated to local charities.
  • 64% sponsored or donated goods/services to local events.
  • 56% offered discounts to certain groups within the community, like teachers or veterans.

Giving back locally may be a good way to improve your business’s image, but it should be about more than that. It may boost employee morale and loyalty when it’s a genuine part of your company culture. And when done right, it may provide real benefits for your community. Even if your budget is tight, there are some clever ways you may be able to make a difference.

Partner with local nonprofits

Your small business may consider partnering with a local nonprofit to support its cause. This may take the form of making financial contributions, sponsoring an event, or donating your product or services. Such partnerships not only give back to the community but also may increase the visibility of your small business among potential customers who value community involvement. 

If you need help choosing a nonprofit to partner with, Great Nonprofits® may help you find ones in your local area. Reach out and see how your business may help, then make sure your employees and customers know about the partnership so they know that their support of your business is helping a greater cause.

Volunteer your time

When you encourage employees to volunteer in the community by offering paid volunteer hours or even organizing team volunteering events, it not only benefits the community but also promotes team building and increases employee satisfaction. According to Goodera®, studies have shown that up to 90% of employees who volunteer are more likely to be engaged, have a positive attitude at work, and feel more connected to the company’s mission and values.

So put on your branded t-shirts and get out there for a win for your business and your community! VolunteerMatch® is a website that matches volunteers to opportunities in their community and may be a great place to start if you need ideas about where your team may help most.

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Support students with internships or mentorships

By offering internships or mentorship programs to local students, small businesses may give young people valuable working experience and help prepare them for future jobs. 

With internships, students gain hands-on experience, learn about an industry, and have an opportunity to apply what they're learning in school. They also have the chance to explore different career paths and network with professionals in their field of interest. Small businesses, in turn, gain access to enthusiastic, motivated individuals who may bring fresh ideas and up-to-date knowledge from their studies, as well as help with projects or tasks that full-time staff may not have time to focus on. 

Establishing a mentorship program also benefits students by helping them develop skills and knowledge for professional and personal growth. Additionally, it may help cultivate leadership skills among your existing staff, foster a supportive company culture, and serve as a valuable tool for retention and professional development.

Some businesses may also see internships or mentorships as a form of long-term recruitment strategy, where they may evaluate potential employees in real working situations.

Adopt environmentally friendly practices

Adopting green practices may help small businesses reduce their carbon footprint and appeal to customers who value sustainability. This is particularly important as more and more consumers are looking to support businesses that align with their own values, including environmental stewardship.

Your small business may want to think about participating in local recycling or waste reduction programs, reducing energy consumption or even switching to reusables, which may help save money, too. Make sure customers are aware of these efforts so they know they are supporting a sustainable business.

Participating in or sponsoring local environmental or cleanup projects is another excellent way small businesses may give back to their communities and demonstrate their commitment to sustainability. Have your team help with tree planting events, river cleanups, or sponsoring other local green initiatives. Visit Keep America Beautiful’s® volunteer portal to find opportunities near you.

Give back with charitable sales promotions

Charitable sales promotions may be a powerful way for small businesses to contribute to their communities while also achieving their own business objectives. They may help businesses differentiate themselves, build customer loyalty, and even attract new customers.

Your small business may consider setting up sales promotions where a percentage of the proceeds goes to a selected charity. For example, "Every sale on the first Friday of the month contributes 10% to our local food bank." This not only gives back to the community but also may drive sales as customers may be more likely to purchase if they know part of their payment is going to a good cause.

If your budget allows, to further encourage sales, you may consider offering to match donations. For example, you may pledge to match the total donation if a certain sales goal is reached, or offer a double donation on specific days.

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