5 Clever Ways Small Businesses Can Give Back Locally

All without breaking the bank!

In a recent study by the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, 62% of small business owners say that giving back to their community has made their company more successful.  Don’t let a tight budget and busy schedule keep you from charitable activities. Read on for clever ways to support your community without breaking the bank.

Promote Local Businesses

One of the best ways to give back is to support other small businesses in your area. Buy locally as often as possible, link to your favorite local companies on your website and post positive small business reviews online. Meetup.com is a good place to find entrepreneur networking groups where you can talk about cross-promotions that are mutually beneficial.

Another way to support local business is to participate in Small Business Saturday. The first-ever official Small Business Saturday took place in November 2011 and is now an annual event. Visit the Shop Small website for more ideas about how you can rally your local community to participate.

Volunteer Your Time

Put on a branded t-shirt and volunteer in your community! Your first stop should be the United We Serve” website. This government initiative aims to both expand existing organizations by engaging new volunteers and encourage volunteers to develop their own “do-it-yourself” projects.

You can also easily spread holiday cheer. Even though the holidays are a very busy time for many small business owners, there are some simple ways to make this stressful time happier for those in need. Encourage your employees and customers to bring in unopened non-perishable canned and boxed foods that can be donated to local food banks. The Feeding America website has a locator that will help you find a food bank near your neighborhood.

Sponsor a Youth Sports Team

Visit any field, gym or swimming pool where children practice and play sports and chances are you’ll see banners or uniforms from local businesses. Ask your employees or customers if there’s a youth sports program in your area that needs sponsorship. You’ll help the players and coaches with funds they need and get publicity in return. It’s a win-win!

Sponsor a Local Event

Do you have an employee running in a marathon or participating in another high profile local event? Offer to sponsor them! Don’t stop there – show up at the event to cheer them on (in a branded shirt or hat that promotes your business, of course). If sponsorships aren’t available, ask to donate needed supplies like bottles of water, pop-up tents or snack items. Be sure your company name is prominently displayed for maximum exposure.

Offer Your Skills

As an entrepreneur, you probably have an area of expertise that can be valuable to others. Consider teaching classes to local residents who want to start a small business. Offer to speak at a local business school to give a real-world perspective that can enhance classroom studies.

Have you considered working with SCORE? Sponsored by the SBA, SCORE provides free and confidential counseling, mentoring and advice to small business owners via a network of business executives, leaders and volunteers. Volunteering at SCORE is a way for you to give back to your community, connect with fellow business owners, and pass on your knowledge and expertise to the next generation of entrepreneurs.