Doing good feels good—whether it’s a financial donation, a day spent volunteering, or a random act of kindness for a stranger. Giving back as a business is no different. And doing so helps foster customer loyalty and trust.
Consumers like companies that lead with purpose and share their values. 88% of consumers said they’re more likely to shop at such a business, and 78% reported encouraging their friends and acquaintances to do the same.
As the holidays approach, this is the perfect time to show customers what you’re all about. Lean into the spirit of giving to make a meaningful difference in your community (and maybe to your growing business, too). Here are six ways to give back this holiday season—no matter your business model or means.
#1 Donate Your Business’s Resources
When you’re brainstorming charitable ideas, you don’t have to look too far beyond your own four walls (or the virtual equivalent). You already specialize in an industry that others value. Use your business’s specialty to your advantage by offering up your products, free of charge, to those who need it:
- If you own a bakery or restaurant, bring surplus food to under-served community members.
- If you own a clothing store, give some of your extra merchandise to a local women’s and children’s shelter.
- If you sew your own tote bags and purses, use the leftover scraps to make beautiful cloth face masks to donate.
- If you own a business with limited operational hours, consider opening your facility as a warming station to houseless community members during your off-hours.
- If you’re a team of real estate agents, you can partner with a home-building charity like Giveback Homes. Although real estate agents don’t technically build homes, your help will be appreciated all the same.
There are plenty of ways to turn your business’s niche into a charitable offering—these are just a few examples.
Remember, donating is an option when it’s within your means to do so. Although, as a small business, profit margins can be tight, especially during such unpredictable times. If that means donating last year’s clothing line or returned items that are still in good shape, this will still be appreciated.
#2 Offer Your Time & Expertise
A donation doesn’t have to be tangible.
In place of physical items or monetary donations, you and your employees can donate your time by offering educational programs in schools, shelters, elderly homes, and many other places in the local community. Being a volunteer is a great way to spread some holiday cheer! Here are a few great examples to provide a little inspiration for your own charitable endeavor:
- Tom Douglas Seattle Kitchen – This restaurant group of food-based businesses works with the Seattle Public School system to teach culinary skills and provide potential job opportunities for students in Career and Technical Education classes.
- Microsoft – This massive technology company offers educational resources and training to help nonprofits utilize more advanced computerized systems that benefit their mission.
- Coursera – This online learning platform created its own Workforce Recovery Initiative to benefit recently unemployed individuals. The program provides free classes to help people learn new skills and re-enter the workforce after being displaced from their industry.
Sometimes, an experience is more valuable than a physical item. As they say, if you teach a man to fish (or cook, or navigate technology, or a whole host of other employable skills), you feed him for a lifetime.
#3 Partner With A Charity
You can take this idea of donating your services one step further by forging a solidified partnership with a well-suited charity. Some business models lend themselves well to working with a local charity—not just during the holiday season.
For example, ShelfGenie in Colorado designs and builds custom Glide-Out shelves for cabinets. In addition to their regular sales, they partnered with Homes for Our Troops, an organization that builds accessible homes for veterans, to install their signature easy glide cabinets in several homes.
No matter your niche business, there’s a local not-for-profit charitable organization that would greatly benefit from your time, energy, service, or products. You can search for nonprofits in your local area using GuideStar.
#4 Host A Donation Drive
During the holiday season, there are always things that people need—toys and books for children’s Christmas presents, warm clothes for community members without a home, and plenty of donated food.
A donation drive is a great way to volunteer and round up these essential items. Often, people already have extra products or lightly used items that they’re more than willing to donate. And now, you’ve given them a great reason to do it!
There are a couple of ways you can organize your donation drive:
- A company-wide event – Ask everyone in your workplace to bring in a few items if they can, whether it’s food, games, clothes, or toiletries. You can divide your employees into teams with a silly prize for whichever group brings in the most items.
- Involve your customers – An easy way to collect donations, involve your community, and bring people to your store is by asking for a small donation in exchange for a discount on their purchase. Use Nextdoor’s business tools like Local Deals to get the word out. For example, Bring in a non-perishable food item for 15% off your meal today. You’ll be able to maximize your donations by providing a minor incentive, while simultaneously driving business growth. That’s a win-win-win.
#5 Donate A Percentage Of Your Profits
This is one of the simplest ways to give back, but that doesn’t mean it’s not as effective.
Select a local charity that would benefit from your financial contribution. Find one that aligns with your business’s values and goals, and that you feel your customers relate to. You can even choose a few different organizations and let the customer decide at checkout which charity their contribution will go to specifically. This has a few benefits:
- Customers feel more connected to the cause because of their active participation.
- They’re able to choose a charity that they recognize and support, or at least decide which cause they believe in most strongly.
- You’ll be increasing social awareness about several important organizations.
If you take this route, it’s essential to be transparent about what the funds are going towards and what percentage will be donated after any administrative fees. Educate your employees on the charitable organization and the direct results of your company’s contribution so they can answer any questions.
There are a few other ways to make a donation campaign a little more noteworthy:
- Apply to a specific set of items – Maybe you have a particular product line or themed items that you’re trying to sell. You can advertise that you’re donating 50% of all proceeds from purchases of Christmas decorations, or men’s shoes, or bath bombs.
- Create a limited edition product – Designing and selling an exclusive item makes your holiday campaign more of a special event. You could create a special holiday version of your best-selling candle or t-shirt, then donate 100% of proceeds from this specific item throughout the entire month of December.
The prospect of donating to a good cause may just give people an incentive to purchase something they otherwise wouldn’t have. Donations are a great way to get people involved and spread some holiday cheer.
#6 Provide A Holiday Meal
There may be people in your community without a warm meal to eat. The holidays are a great time to provide neighbors and friends with a hot meal.
Here are a few ways you can go about this:
- Open up your restaurant to bring community members together for a free meal and a warm place to eat.
- Donate your food and time to a local soup kitchen or shelter that already provides this kind of service.
- Purchase and package holiday-dinner-bundles with all the ingredients that community members will need to make their families a delicious home-cooked meal.
If you own a salon, coffee shop, or retailer, consider partnering with restaurants, grocery stores, and other food-related small businesses, and promote the cause together. Not only will this double the marketing efforts, but it will double the donation efforts too!
Share the Gift of Giving With Your Community
If you’re making a difference this holiday season, you can amplify your impact and share it with your neighbors and friends. But the internet is far-reaching, and your events and fundraisers might not be getting in front of the right people.
So how do you get the word out about local initiatives? How do you reach the communities that are most likely to support your efforts?
You can reach them where they already are, on Nextdoor.
By claiming your free Nextdoor Business Page, you can get in touch with guaranteed locals that live nearby and let them know about the ways you’re giving back this year.
Here’s how you can use the free Business Posts feature to reach the community:
- Ask for recommendations of the community’s favorite local charities, so your customers have a say in where their support is going.
- Advertise your donation drive promotion, that you’re donating all proceeds on certain items, or that you’ve started a new charity partnership.
- Request nominations of community members that deserve an extravagant already-paid-for holiday feast, to find deserving locals.
- Hold a contest to decide next year’s holiday charity recipient. Let your customers know that everyone that writes a recommendation about your business will be entered in a drawing to pick your next cause and receive a special prize.
- If you’re keeping your charitable efforts internal, you can still share all the ways you’re giving back. Post photos of a company-wide volunteering day, share about the communities and organizations that have received your donations, and let customers know when you’ve met your financial goal.
‘Tis The Season to Give Back
Giving back is not about increasing sales or posting feel-good photo-ops, but that doesn’t mean you can’t share with your community when you’ve done something worthwhile. You might just inspire other members and businesses in your local community to start their own charitable campaigns or projects.
Giving back starts in your neighborhood. That means it can start on Nextdoor, too.
Shuksan Web. 5 Ways Your Business Can Give Back During the Holidays. https://shuksanweb.com/5-ways-your-business-can-give-back-during-the-holidays/
Seedership. How to Maximize Your Small Business Marketing Budget Without Spending A Penny. https://www.seedership.com/blog-post/how-to-maximize-your-small-business-marketing-budget-without-spending-a-penny
Claim your free Business Page to get started on Nextdoor. For resources on how to use Nextdoor to stay connected with your local customers, pertinent news affecting businesses, and more, follow us at @nextdoorbusiness on Facebook.