Small businesses are an integral part of evert community throughout the country. They are critical to the health of our local economies while providing a range of essential services and enhancing diversity. After all, these enterprises are staffed by members of the very communities they serve and are, in turn, able to weather the inevitable ups and downs of economic growth and recession through the support of loyal local customers.
Traditionally locally owned and operated, small businesses are also, intrinsically, more enmeshed in their respective communities, supporting local sports teams, non-profits, fundraisers, and events. In fact, three-fourths of all small businesses commit to significant charitable donations each year. And, while monetary gifts are always welcome and helpful – and the tax benefits are hard to ignore – fostering connections through creative community service and support is also a great way for businesses to remain relevant and increase visibility while giving back in a big way.
Determining the best way your small business can support your community is as easy as doing what you do best. Whatever service or product you provide can typically be donated in one form or another through raffle prizes or necessary support. A hotel owner, for instance, might offer a room as a raffle getaway package or a block of rooms for free or reduced rates to event volunteers.
Consider non-profits with a mission that is important either to you personally, or holds significance for your business, and pledge an annual commitment of time, money, materials, or labor to support that cause. Keep in mind that this commitment might look more like a partnership – perhaps some spillover products can be repurposed by an animal shelter, stocked at a local school for students that might lack appropriate clothing, or donated to a soup kitchen to be distributed to those in need.
Take part in community meal trains for families experiencing crisis, or offer a meal to a local help center, shelter, or emergency service provider. Food banks are often in need of supplemental provisions and labor support as well, offering a perfect opportunity for a team-building volunteering event.
Think about hosting an event. As a business owner, you arguably have connections above and beyond the average community member to coordinate donations, and conceivably a gathering space to throw a great fundraising or community-building event. Mixers, live performances, art shows, dinners, and game nights can all be fun, family-friendly options.
Finally, think about programs that benefit hometown heroes like teachers, emergency responders, medical personnel, and veterans. Discount programs, free services, or perks for donations to worthwhile causes are all fairly easy to organize but can mean substantial lasting support and gratitude. Even offering a special birthday or anniversary treat can brighten a community, one happy customer at a time.
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