7 Ways to Make Philanthropy a Part of Your Small Business

September 16, 2016 Pete Jansons

Happy volunteers in the park on a sunny day

Small business employers who give back to the community are not only doing good for others, they are benefiting their businesses as well. Not only does volunteering and charitable giving help to foster a sense of community and collaboration among your workers, it gives them a sense of purpose, which increases morale and helps with retention. Having a business that gives back also appeals to clients who want to partner with socially responsible organizations. Creating a culture of philanthropy could also give you a competitive edge when it comes to attracting millennials – as both employees and customers.

As a small business, you may not have the resources to give generous charitable donations, but there are other ways you can give back and make an impact on the community around you. Consider these possibilities:

  1. Food/clothing/book drives: Set up bins where workers can drop off non-perishable food items, clothing, books, electronics and other resources for a local homeless shelter, school, library, community center or salvation army store.
  2. Fun run participation: Keep an eye out for local races, fun runs, walk-a-thons or similar events that are raising money for certain causes, then organize a company team to participate. Not only will it promote a sense of goodwill, it will also help with team-building and promote a healthy lifestyle (which also has been shown to benefit business).
  3. Volunteering with a local organization: In addition to fostering teamwork, organizing a company volunteer day takes employees outside of their typical work environment, which can spur creativity and innovation, research shows. Not sure where to start? A site like volunteermatch.com can help you identify local charities in need of help. Or schedule an outing with Habitat for Humanity or the local food kitchen.
  4. Team sponsorship: Do something good for the community while also promoting your business by sponsoring a local little league team or intramural sports league team. In exchange for your business covering the cost of uniforms and league fees, you might see your company’s logo on team uniforms or park banners.
  5. Paid time off to volunteer: Many companies offer employees a certain amount of hours of paid time off to use toward volunteer work. This requires absolutely no planning on your end, and employees will appreciate the chance to give back — in a way that is meaningful to them and works for their own schedules — without having to worry about “making up” for the time away from the office.
  6. Office contests: Creating a little friendly competition at the office not only boosts morale, it enables employees to take a break from the daily grind and blow off some steam, so when they do go back to work, they’ll be re-energized. Add a philanthropic element by making the prize money toward the winner’s favorite charity.
  7. Employees’ choice: Your employees will be that much more invested and feel more connected when the cause is meaningful to them on a personal level. Do a survey to see where your employees most want to make an impact and start there.

Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy. You can also sign up to get the Small Business Recruitment-in-a-Box toolkit, compliments of CareerBuilder.

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