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Published On: Sat, Jul 9th, 2016

4 Ways Helping Your Community Can Help Your Business

Is it really better to give than receive?

Yes. At least, if you’re a business owner looking to raise your profile in your own backyard.

That might sound cynical, but it’s just good business. Corporate social responsibility is all the rage these days: no matter what business you’re in, your competitors are probably on the train already. More to the point, getting involved with community groups, nonprofits and social enterprises in your hometown is a great way to show your customers, suppliers, creditors and folks-on-the-street that you care about more than your bottom line. And it feels pretty good, too.

Not convinced that your company needs to up its community engagement activities? Here are a few tips for do-gooder novices looking for easy, actionable engagement ideas that won’t break the bank or crimp your style.

  1. Volunteer with an Aligned Social Enterprise or Nonprofit
photo  Gerd Altman via pixabay

photo Gerd Altman via pixabay

Even if you’re all about the bottom line, your corporate mission probably aligns with that of a local social enterprise or nonprofit. For instance, you might run an independent grocery store that’s all about food justice; chances are, a local food pantry or community gardening nonprofit would love your support. The co-branding opportunities are endless, provided they’re not also shameless.

  1. Sponsor a Cleanup Day

Everyone likes clean streets, parks, beaches, yards — why not tap your employees’ natural love for tidy outdoor spaces? If you’ve got the human and financial resources, consider sponsoring a local or regional cleanup day, like AAA Oregon’s massive (nearly 5,000 volunteers) coastal cleanup shindig. If you’re smaller, make your cleanup day a private affair, or latch onto a larger event, like Des Moines’ Earth Day Trash Bash.

  1. Become an Academic Booster

“I can’t be with my child during the school day, but I can help out,” says Rosemary Plorin, a Nashville-based strategic communications executive who shares both her professional skills and her volunteer energies at her daughter’s school. “Like most parents, I really want her away-from-home experiences — in the classroom, at extracurricular clubs and on the playing field — as safe, nurturing and fulfilling as possible.”

“And because I also happen to serve on the school’s board of trust, I know the hard work of parents doesn’t go unnoticed,” she adds.

Millions of parents are involved in their kids academic and extracurricular lives. For those that happen to own businesses, boosterism is a classic example of a win-win synergy.

  1. Donate a Portion of Your Profits or Sales

If your margins allow it, put your company’s money where its mouth is and donate a portion of a particular item’s (or, if you’re really feeling flush, your entire company’s) total sales or net profits to a favored community cause. Sales- and profit-based donations are a great way to boost sales and give your employees some skin in the charitable game.

“We consistently donate at least 5 percent of our gross sales to local and national thrift nonprofits, like Goodwill and St. Vincent de Paul,” says San Diego-based Sherri Meyers, whose printing startup churns out thousands of custom hats and shirts each week. “It’s the least we can do to give back to the less fortunate and set ourselves apart from more profit-oriented competitors.”

What’s your company doing to improve its image and make its hometown (or the wider world) a better place?

Guest Author: Mariia Lvovych

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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