8 Ways to Give Back to the Community as a Business
Giving back to the community can help a lot of people, but it can also be a benefit to your business. While some business owners do this at the end of the financial year, it may be more effective to build community-supporting efforts into your business plan for the next 12 months.
Business Reasons to Donate and Volunteer
Besides helping to build your community, there are solid business-based reasons to make giving back something your business does.
Retain employees: 69% of Millennials say working for socially responsible employers creates a sense of pride, according to the Upside Foundation . You can also consider it a retention strategy. Randy Frisch, president of Uberflip in Toronto, puts it this way: “If you’re an employee, with a cause that’s near and dear to you and your company is contributing to that, that gives you a voice and that gives you a connection… it’s just one thing we can do to increase retention.”
Team building: While there’s a time and a place for blow-out staff parties, consider that having employees get together to volunteer as a group or fill hampers can also serve as a team-building opportunity. It might help your employees develop problem-solving skills in a new environment, de-stress, and create a sense of accomplishment as a team.
Customers appreciate it: Depending on your industry, making charitable contributions may just be one of those typical activities that all your competitors engage in. According to Now Creative Group, 70% of Canadians are more likely to purchase from companies that give back.
Strategic plan: When you establish philanthropic goals, you can make consistent decisions when organizations come knocking at your doors periodically with donation requests. Requests for support can come up in all kinds of situations. Being prepared for the “ask” makes you appear genuinely open to these discussions.
Taxes and donations: Ask your accountant for guidelines on how to include donations when filing corporate taxes.
8 Ideas for “How” to Give Back
If you see the value of contributing to the community, now comes the fun part: deciding which causes to support and how. Here are some ideas.
1. Get employees engaged. You can solicit feedback from staff on which charities they want to support, or give them a few charities to choose from, then let them decide. If employees feel emotionally engaged in the cause, they’re more likely to feel ownership of the company’s charitable efforts.
2. Match donations. Pick a charity that “fits” your business, ideally one that your employees or customers can feel passionate about, then offer to donate an equivalent amount to what employees or customers donate (up to a pre-set limit) so that everyone can see their donations “doubled.”
3. Link donations to sales. For a campaign, you could donate one product for every product sold, announce that $5 from each item purchased goes to charity, or donate 1% of sales to a worthy cause.
4. Volunteer as a group. Projects that invite groups of workers are amazing team-building opportunities. That might mean you sort donations at the food bank, swing hammers with Habitat for Humanity, pick up trash in a community cleanup, or serve meals at a soup kitchen. If your staff has professional skills —like hair dressing, for example—you might be able to volunteer in a capacity that uses your craft.
5. Volunteer day(s). Consider offering some paid time off to volunteer each year, which encourages employees to pitch in with a cause that they want to support as an individual.
6. Fill a hamper. As a team project, there’s something extremely satisfying about co-workers who decide to fill a box or table with donations, then watch the contributions pile up. Some options might include contributing a Christmas hamper with gifts for a family, a sock drive for a homeless shelter, a student backpack for back to school, or toiletries for a women’s shelter.
7. Support a team. While nothing is cuter than a team of 5-year-old hockey players wearing your pizza restaurant’s name on their jersey, there’s a tremendous variety of sports organizations that could use sponsorship. You can support athletes of all ages, an athlete with the Special Olympics, or a weekend archery tournament. If your business entails selling to families, sponsoring youth sports could be a good fit for your company and the community.
8. Sponsor a community event. This might mean you contribute product, a venue, or cash for a gala or fundraiser. Sponsoring an event could be part of your company’s marketing plan as a way to reach potential customers, so you may wish your business to sponsor a cause that strategically aligns with your brand .
When it comes to giving back, consider your community, your business, your employees, your customers and what your competitors might be doing. Then think about ways to make a difference in your little corner of the world while you keep employees engaged and build goodwill in your community.
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