Original blog published on May 4, 2016 | Blog updated on June 10, 2021
You can help your neighborhood, even with limited resources
Smart business owners know that part of their overall mission should include giving back to their communities. Simple acts of kindness and charity enhance your reputation with customers, potential customers and the community as a whole. More importantly, they serve to strengthen the community that you and your employees call home.
Efforts to improve your community and the lives of others don’t have to be expensive or time-consuming.
As a small business owner, you might be asking yourself: How can I afford to do this? The answer is: Efforts to improve your community and the lives of others don’t have to be expensive or time-consuming.
Here’s an example: At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, one of KickCharge Creative’s clients, Matheson Heating, Air & Plumbing in Commerce, MI, posted a message on its Facebook page offering to deliver groceries, shovel snow, take trash cans to the curb or do whatever residents who were confined to their homes might need help doing.
Comfort Matters Heating & Cooling, another KickCharge Creative client, made a similar offer in March 2020, spreading the word that it would use its company vehicles to deliver supplies to elderly residents who needed help in their area: the Twin Cities Northwest Metro Area of Minnesota.
Other pandemic-related undertakings have been more labor intensive. One KickCharge client, RDS Same Day Delivery in New York City, has partnered with area restaurants to help deliver more than 350,000 meals to frontline workers, the needy and senior citizen shut-ins since March 2020—an effort that continues today.
While the pandemic offered many businesses a chance to reach out, it is still only one way businesses can make a difference. There are always more opportunities. Your company could sponsor a youth sports team, organize a clothing drive, encourage employees to give blood or create a walk team to raise money to battle cancer, diabetes, homelessness, etc. The possibilities are endless. Make sure to wear branded clothing so you’re presence is noticed.
Contractors could do work for area nonprofits. For example, if the furnace at the women’s shelter breaks down, you can donate your time to fix it, or offer handyman services. During your slow season, you can take on a project to benefit a community organization.
It’s time to reframe thinking about community involvement, because even small companies can make it work.
Another, less time-intensive approach is to donate a company service or product as a silent auction item, such as a gift certificate for an air conditioner tune-up. If the auction winner takes advantage of the offer and has a good experience with the company, he or she could become a loyal customer, write a good review and perhaps refer his or her friends and family.
It’s time to reframe thinking about community involvement, because even small companies can make it work—and the benefits can be plentiful.
Megan Beste, a community relations consultant with Taggart Associates in Bethlehem, Pa., helps companies make an impact in their communities. She advises clients to reframe their motivation for partnering with their communities. Unlike website analytics or call-tracking programs that show a direct referral path or conversion and produce quantifiable metrics, it is more difficult to track the results of being a good corporate citizen. It’s more subtle, with brand awareness and positive association as the goals.
“It’s part of the bigger picture for your brand—it’s not going to be measurable,” Beste says.
But, it is worthwhile.
Benefits of Community Partnerships
Community partnerships create a touch point, so that sometime in the future, a person who needs a company’s product or service might say, “I’ve heard of them.” If marketing is a motivating factor, companies should identify an organization to benefit that can likely refer business to them.
Besides generating new leads, a hidden benefit of this perception is improved employee recruitment and retention. When competing for the best and the brightest job candidates, this can make a business stand apart from its competition.
Volunteering together builds a sense of camaraderie among employees, and it makes them feel good about representing a company that supports important causes.
Leadership development, employee engagement and team building are among the primary benefits that Beste touts for investing time to benefit a community organization or event. Volunteering together builds a sense of camaraderie among employees, and it makes them feel good about representing a company that supports important causes.
Beste helps clients identify opportunities for their employees to serve on nonprofits’ boards of directors. This experience provides meaningful networking for professionals, especially if they are paired with an organization that matches their personal interests or passions.
“When people do something they’re passionate about, they do their best work, they let their personality shine through, and they truly gain skills and appreciation for the community that they may not experience while sitting behind a desk all day,” Beste says.
To maximize the benefits of these efforts, a company should ask the organizations it supports to acknowledge the contributions in their newsletter or on their website or social media accounts.
When businesses team up with the groups that are working hard to make their neighborhoods a better place, everyone wins. With a healthy perspective and smart strategies, companies can allocate resources without breaking the bank, and enjoy the benefits of both a strong, positive reputation in their community and strong morale and team spirit in the workplace.