This article was updated on May 2, 2022
7 Creative ways your business can be giving back to the community
As a small business owner, you've worked hard to establish your reputation as a local staple in your town or city. To help foster your business's ties to the community, it's essential to find creative ways to give back. If you are looking to start giving back to the community, we are here to help.
Data shows that 75% of small businesses donate 6% of their profits each year to charitable causes. While this is an impressive testament to the generosity of small business owners, there's more to giving back than making a monetary donation.
Finding a cause you are passionate about is an essential step in community giving. Volunteering your unique skill or donating valuable resources to nonprofits can provide a sense of purpose that enriches other aspects of your life. While philanthropy for the tax benefits certainly has its perks, you are likely to be more engaged in giving back to the community when the cause is close to your heart.
This guide will cover several creative ways your organization can give back to your community, as well as provide real-world success stories so you can see what works.
Table of Contents:
- Partner with a local organization
- Get your employees involved
- Donate your products or services
- Offer discounts to community heroes
- Host a social charity event
- Help your neighbors network
- Go green - commit to planet-friendly practices
What are some creative ways of giving back to the community?
If you are looking to contribute to a charitable organization or start volunteering, there are many ways your business can up its community involvement. Every neighborhood is different, so each of the following forward-thinking strategies is unique and can be custom-tailored to meet the needs of your community.
#1 Partner with a local organization
Local businesses can strengthen their local economies - and help each other out - by banding together. Try stocking your shelves with locally made products, or offering discounts to customers who show a receipt from another community organization or partner. Even simple things like 'liking' posts on social media or giving recommendations on Nextdoor can make a difference.
#2 Get your employees involved
Shake things up and host a company-wide day of service by all signing up for the same volunteer opportunity. Enlist your employees to help plant trees, clean up a public space, or bring food to a local food bank or homeless shelter. These are all great ways to create a positive impact and establish a stronger social connection among your community. No matter what cause you decide to support, your employees will appreciate the change of pace, and they'll respect your commitment to giving back to your community.
Setting up a company-wide blood donation event is a great way to augment corporate contributions and raise morale. Blood is essential for everything from natural disaster response to chronic disease treatment - and the need for blood is constant.
Real-world inspiration: Dave Mitchell, a buyer's specialist for Team Marti of John L. Scott, a real estate agency based in Kent, Washington, made headlines for his impactful involvement in the local community amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. He was honored as a Hometown Hero for his volunteer work that provided millions of pounds of food to those in need of emergency aid. Stay-at-home orders and job cuts left so many Americans without anywhere else to turn.
This not only gave a boost to residents experiencing pandemic-induced hardships, but it also reflected positively on his business and its commitment not only to selling houses but to making the local neighborhood feel like a nurturing home.
#3 Donate your products or services
Although donating money can be a great way to lend a helping hand (and it's beneficial when tax season rolls around), offering your products or services to members of your community who need them can also make a huge impact.
Restaurant owners can help fight hunger and donate meals to feed frontline workers or a homeless shelter, while retailers can donate goods to clothing drives for a local charity event. Even simple acts of generosity like providing t-shirts to your local little league team are great ways to show how much you care.
It also doubles as a marketing strategy if you include your branding.
Real-world inspiration: The Nesting Box Market and Creamery, located in Albany Township, PA, is a perfect example of a business generously donating its goods. In February of 2020, they began donating 150 eggs a month to the Parkland Cares Food Pantry to provide community members in need with fresh, locally raised food. In return for this generosity, they received high praise and positive mentions in the press.
#4 Offer discounts to community heroes
The hard-working members of your community deserve a little gratitude every once in a while. Express appreciation for the great things your customers do by offering discounts to people making a positive impact.
Take a look at these groups who could always use an extra thank you:
- Police officers
This is just the tip of the iceberg. You can even offer discounts for birthdays, anniversaries, or simply because you want to brighten someone's day.
Real-world inspiration: Douglas Cleaners, located in Birmingham, MI, decided to make a difference by offering free dry cleaning for peoples' interview outfits. Since many job seekers have faced difficulty during the global pandemic, the owners decided to show their appreciation for people trying to get back on their feet.
Another approach is giving discounts to customers who donate money to a specific cause or local charity. Not only does this help your business give back, but it also makes your community more giving and generous as a whole.
#5 Host a social charity event (in-person or virtually)
Your business can be more than just a place of commerce-it can also be a gathering place where neighbors come to enjoy a sense of community. Try hosting:
- Neighborhood mixers
- Happy hours
- Local performances
- Events to showcase the work of neighborhood artists
- Fundraiser dinners
- Community game nights
Online events are great alternatives when in-person events aren't safe or possible. Share your event on Nextdoor to make sure your neighbors stay in the loop.
Real-world inspiration: Conroy St. Christopher Smith is a tattoo artist and business owner of JaySkinzTattoo in York, Pennsylvania. This young entrepreneur decided to add a dose of positivity and a dash of traditional Jamaican cooking to the community by hosting a cookout that fed local neighbors-both those who were in need as well as those who were not.
Aside from bringing community members together for a day of networking and good eats, this likely boosted the tattoo studio's visibility as it made headlines in local news outlets.
#6 Help your neighbors network
Helping your community members connect with each other is another opportunity to give back. If you hear about someone in need, spread the word. If you know someone who's looking for a job, as well as someone who's hiring, connect them.
No matter how small it may seem, you're giving back every time you help make a community connection, With Nextdoor, you can even give special shoutouts on your Business Page to help spread kindness in your community.
#7 Go green — commit to planet-friendly practices
Keep your community beautiful, healthy, and eco-friendly by committing to more sustainable business practices. Let your customers know you're working to reduce waste or set up a communal composting station. You can even turn going green into an event by gathering volunteers to pick up litter or start a community garden.
Real-world inspiration: Peace Coffee in Minneapolis, MI, is a leader in eco-friendly business practices. They've been doing local deliveries via bicycle since 1998. They've also committed to making their office a green oasis with solar panels, geothermal heating, and a rooftop garden.
You don't have to make huge changes to make a difference. Upping your recycling game or switching to biodegradable packaging are great first steps.
Why giving back matters
In a world filled with franchises, big-box retailers, and eCommerce giants, many people are drawn to the personalized feeling that comes from local businesses. By giving back to your local community, you deepen this sense of connection and make a difference in other people's lives. Giving back demonstrates how much you care about your customers and community.
Plus, giving back is great for business.
How can giving back help boost business?
Good deeds aside, giving back is important from a business perspective for three main reasons:
- Stronger customer relationships - You want your customers to see your business as more than just a place to shop, eat, or purchase services. Going the extra mile to demonstrate your brand's values can be a powerful tool. A great way to do this is by paying attention to your community members' needs. Whether it's helping someone through a difficult time, celebrating a special moment, or showcasing a local hero, getting involved means you'll get to know people beyond just checking them out at the register.
- Improved employee morale - Studies show that companies who actively pursue social and environmental outreach initiatives have more engaged workers. When your employees are happy, their positive attitudes often spill over into every aspect of your business. After all, positivity is contagious.
- Consumers value social responsibility - These days, consumers care about where they spend their money. In fact, 82% of consumers take social responsibility into consideration when they shop. Giving back shows your business cares about the needs of the community.
Spread the word of good deeds with Nextdoor
Giving back is an intimate way to connect with your local community. Show that your local business is all about that connection by claiming your free Business Page on Nextdoor, a platform built for neighborhood connection.
By claiming a Nextdoor business page, you'll be able to directly connect with nearby customers. Once you've decided how your business is going to make a difference, Nextdoor is an easy and efficient way to create some buzz about promotions, fundraisers, and events.
Most importantly, Nextdoor is hyper-local. Every neighbor is registered by their address, so you can rest assured knowing your efforts are being directed where they're supposed to.
Keep giving, growing, and thriving
As a local business owner, your to-do list can seem never-ending. Hopefully, these ideas will inspire you to put giving back on the top of your list. Just by being a small business, you're already helping to make your local community special. By following the tips above, you'll be doing even more to create the kind of neighborhood people and businesses thrive in.
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Business News Daily. Small Business Guide to Charitable Giving and Tax Deductions. https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/10470-small-business-guide-charity-donations.html
Big Commerce. Double Your Bottom Line: How Giving Back Boosts Business. https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/double-bottom-line-giving-back-can-boost-business/#3-remember-your-employees-see-giving-as-a-high-priority
The Morning Call. Health care and city workers, animal advocates, bakers and more: Here are the women Morning Call readers nominated as difference-makers in the Lehigh Valley. https://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-nws-lehigh-valley-women-20210330-ic5yhgllc5dtfpna6valcc3u5q-list.html
The Jewish News. Small Businesses Give Back. https://thejewishnews.com/2021/04/02/small-businesses-give-back/
Civil Eats. 10 Most Sustainable Coffee Businesses in the United States. https://civileats.com/2016/10/12/most-sustainable-coffee-businesses-in-the-united-states/