When the economy is tight, it’s not easy for small businesses to give back to their communities. For the record, 90% of our small businesses give to charities and non-profits in their area. And, 60%+ of them admit that charitable giving brings them success.

Even when they are have little time or money to spare, small businesses find a way to support a local T-ball team, contribute equipment to schools and libraries, or mentor and coach. We want to share some of the ways our customers in meaningful ways without giving up big bucks or otherwise productive time.

  • Award a prize. Support a charity by donating a prize for a raffle or silent auction. Donate a product or a gift certificate.
  • Give them a hand. Provide a service, such as printing, webspace, or window posting. Supply giveaways, such as promotional items, volunteer service, or volunteer hours.
  • Put employees to work. Make volunteerism a part of your business pace work culture. Calendar a day when employees can volunteer to work at the local food bank, cook at a homeless shelter, or help local seniors.
  • Take a collection. If your situation permits, collect customer spare change for local charities; change it monthly. Or, place a collection bin for used books or non-perishable food.
  • Sponsor a scholarship. Contribute as little as $25 to a reading contest at your library or school, and call it a “scholarship.” Children and parents appreciate the support, regardless of the size.
  • Join forces. Persuade the stores on your block or in your strip mall to promote a single campaign. It multiplies contributions and maximizes exposure. Partner with another small company in your sector to turn what may have been a small donation into a sizable one.
  • Sit on a board. Bring your business and management skills to the board of a non-profit. Take the lead on bringing other businesses into line.
  • Scratch a back. Trade your service for a link on the charity’s program or website.
  • Hold a lawn sale. Sell used office furniture and electronics to raise money or donate it outright to local schools, churches, and libraries.

Now, you can only work with what you have. Don’t over commit or spread yourself thin. Weigh your options when you are doing your 2012 budget. For example, you might take that $10/week payment for a tiny ad in your church bulletin and put it towards are larger gift with bigger exposure. It doesn’t lessen your charitable motives to expect community response for your effort. Small businesses serve their communities well, and support them with taxes, rentals, and payroll. There is no reason their loyalty should leave town.


by Steven Schlagel