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10 Ways for Your Business to Give Back

September 29, 2010

There’s perhaps no better way to raise your profile in the community and make employees feel proud than by giving back to a worthy cause.Short on money, time or employees? No worries. There are still plenty of ways to do good and create goodwill:

1). Dedicate a day of service. Close your office for a day (or a half day) and let your employees use that time to work at a soup kitchen, visit an elder home, or clean up a local park. Research shows that the most successful company-run volunteer programs allow employees to select the causes they support, so you pick the day and let your people pick their cause.

2). Donate things rather than money. Many schools, churches and other nonprofits raise funds via charity auctions. Contributing your company’s product or service — a vacation package from a travel agent, a free consultation from a legal firm, or brunch from a restaurant — is an excellent way to spread your name in the community.

3). Reinforce your brand with every donation. Is there a cause that naturally aligns with your business? If so, donating to that cause works even harder to build your brand. A dental practice could donate to the Smile Train, a landscaper could give to the Sierra Club, and a car dealership could support Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Funneling some of your advertising budget into a donation instead (which you then highlight in the fewer ads you do run) can be even smarter than running more ads without the positive association.

4). Turn unwanted inventory into a donation. Any person or company can set up a storefront on eBay Givingworks where profits from items you auction off go to a charity of your choice. By opening up the bidding to a worldwide network, you might double or triple your donation.

5). Partner up. Double your impact in the community by finding another company, big or small, to join you in a volunteer effort. Share the cost of an ad highlighting the partnership.

6). Hire an intern. Mentorship is just as important as monetary giving. Find a local student interested in your field and create an internship for him or her. Who knows, they might become an employee one day.

7). Create some link love. Help small charities by adding a link from your Web site to theirs. It builds goodwill for your company, while letting your customers discover a worthy nonprofit.

8). Donate used, working computers and printers. Planning to upgrade or replace your computers? Ask local schools, libraries, or nonprofits if they could benefit from your old items. It’s a write-off for you and lets them save their limited budget for other items.

9). Give to charities on behalf of your best clients. Instead of fruit baskets or flowers at the holidays, really make an impression on your customers by donating to a worthy cause in their name. Even better, find out what causes your client cares most about and make your donation to a nonprofit that supports the cause. Send a tribute card announcing the gift; it will stand out from the sea of other cards they receive. For example, earlier this year organized a contest to donate to money to a program that plants trees through our Green initiative.

10). Mobilize your social media followers on behalf of a cause. If your company has a presence on Facebook or Twitter, you’re two steps ahead in the game. First, you can publicize your giving to deepen the “like” factor with customers. Second, you can motivate users to spread the word about your efforts to their circles by promising additional donations based upon how many shares or retweets your page receives.

How does your company give back to your community? We salute your efforts and want to hear about them in the comments section below. Who knows – your words might inspire others to get involved.

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