Guest Author - Deborah Crawford
Does your small business support a charity or non-profit group? As you grow your business and become more successful, you will have requests from different groups in your community for sponsorship, donations, participation in events or other ways of giving. Most large corporations have programs for social responsibility and community involvement, and it is a great idea for small businesses, too.
Here are six reasons you should support a charity or non-profit endeavor in your community:
1—The opportunity to give back. This is the top reason to seek out a charity to support. It allows you to share and pass on some of your good fortune and success. Doing so in your own community can bring business benefits, too.
2—Community support and good will. Being part of a community is vital for small business. In the days of the mega stores and the internet, it can be difficult to sustain a small business. One way to ensure that your business thrives in your community is to help build a thriving community.
3—Marketing opportunities. When you donate money, time, products or services, charity and non-profit groups usually have some sort of recognition program. Having your business name included is good promotion. It is one of the reasons you see children’s athletic teams with business names on their uniforms. People are more apt to support businesses they feel are part of their world.
4—The opportunity to support causes you believe in. It is great if you can tie your business purpose to a particular charity, but if you cannot, you can pick a charity or community group that you are passionate about and support them. For example, a baby clothing store can support baby safety, prevention of child abuse, breastfeeding, and many other causes that “make sense” for a baby clothing business to support. But, if the owner has a passion to help animals, she can certainly promote those causes in a baby store, too.
5—Contributions don’t have to drain your bank account. Many organizations, particularly those at the local level have needs for time and services as well as cash. Contact the group you would like to help and ask them if there are volunteer opportunities available.
6—The opportunity to be involved. Getting involved in your local community is a great business strategy for many reasons. As you get to know others and work with others for a cause that you believe in, you will have fun and, you’ll become a part of the group. You will be involved and that can help you with marketing your business in many ways—you will know the needs of the community and be able to find ways to meet them. It’s hard to buy that kind of market research anywhere, but almost impossible for small businesses.
All in all, supporting a charity or non-profit group can help your business grow, but most of all, it can be a great way to give back to your community and help support causes that need your help.
Whether you support battered women’s groups, energy efficiency, animal rights, rainforest preservation or ending world hunger, be sure to research your group first. Ask your local Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, or other local supporters about them. Or, try to look them up at Charity Navigator.
I usually recommend picking one “preferred” group that you support with most of your available time and money. But, for a small business, keep a small amount of money in your monthly budget for other charities. Usually, you can buy small ads in programs or yearbooks for $5 and up, or sponsor a hole in a charity golf tournament, or supply soft drinks for a bake sale. These little bits of money can buy a ton of goodwill and public relations.
Empowering women to start businesses is one of my personal missions. One of my favorite ways to do that is to loan money via Kiva, an organization that helps microfinance small businesses in the developing world.