When we think of corporate social responsibility, we don’t often think of small businesses.
It’s mostly the big companies that get all the attention for their efforts to improve the world. They’ve got the partnerships, the team members and the media connections to get the most from their corporate social responsibility initiatives, and they’re the ones raising millions for charity and creating foundations for global causes.
But giving back isn’t just for the Facebooks, Googles and Amazons of the world. Small businesses are major drivers of charitable giving in the United States. All it takes is will and a desire to do good.
Benefits of giving back
Whether it’s raising money, donating time or providing pro bono services, giving back can motivate your team, raise your standing in the community and make you feel good about the work you do.
While it’s important for people to know about your community involvement, you’ll want to refrain from making it part of your marketing strategy. The last thing you want to do is to devalue your charitable efforts by boasting about them.
If your corporate social responsibility initiative aligns with you company’s mission, vision and values, people will take notice and word will spread. Your customers and business partners will be proud to work with you, the organizations you support will appreciate your efforts, and eventually, your business will become associated with goodwill in the community.
Behind the scenes, you’ll see a change as well.
When it comes to adding new team members and retaining excellent talent, a corporate social responsibility plan can go a long way. More than ever, job seekers are looking for companies that have heart. Millennials and Generation Z are looking to work for companies that care about their communities, embrace diversity and support important causes.
There are a few ways to approach corporate social responsibility.
Become a B Corp
A benefit corporation, or B Corp, is a company that makes giving back to the community a core aspect of its business. These companies meet the highest standards when it comes to how they interact with their community, their environment and the world. It’s a great differentiator, but it’s also a lot of work.
B Corps must undergo verification procedures, meet legal requirements and subject themselves to certification assessments.
The good news is you don’t need a label to give back to your community.
Choose a nonprofit to partner with
Partner with a nonprofit that fits well with your company’s mission, vision and values, and work with them to do social good. Be intentional about the partnership; don’t just support them financially. Participate in their events, and regularly promote their activities.
Focus on community needs
Small businesses right here in Lancaster County are giving back every day by supporting causes they believe in.
One local retail store has hosted salsa dancing nights to bring people together and promote diversity in their gallery space. Meanwhile, a local graphic design and letterpress printing company coordinates annual Print Crawls, where donations go to a scholarship fund for students at Thaddeus Stevens College and the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design.
By pursuing their passion and serving the needs of their community, these businesses have made an impact on people’s lives.
If your small business is looking for a new and innovative way to give back, reach out to a SCORE mentor today to start brainstorming ideas.
• Jim Frey is a SCORE mentor who spent more than 20 years working in sales and marketing for large companies, including Xerox. He also has owned and sold four businesses of his own.