As a business owner, you have many responsibilities. Often, your days are long, and your nights are short. Owning a small business is hard work. Interestingly, despite the time and effort you pour into your business, one of the most significant rewards of owning a small business is giving more by giving back. Giving back to the community and those in need is one of the best gifts you can give others, yourself, and your business.
As the Baby Boomer generation moves into retirement, Millennials become the generation with more disposable income and a larger say in what our culture values. While 72% of Baby Boomers give to charity and only 59% of Generation X gives, 84% of Millennials give to charitable organizations. Knowing which companies give back matters to Millenials. Not only are they more inclined to give back themselves, but also they are more inclined to want to work for and buy from companies that give back.
Beyond the financial benefits a company can receive through increased business, better employee selection, and tax write-offs, there is something deeper gained when a business gives back. There is a sense of being part of something larger that only activities like volunteering and charitable giving can foster for individuals and groups.
It has been noted that people who give back are happier overall. Businesses that work together to give back increase the bonds between employees and boost morale. Most importantly, when we give back, we help one another grow, improve, and succeed.
Giving back can seem a little intimidating, especially for a small business. Fortunately, it is easy to find ways to contribute to your community and beyond. By using your imagination, you can find large and small ways to make a big difference.
Planning and Prioritizing
Just as you planned and prioritized your business, so too should you plan and prioritize how you give back. Depending on the size of your business, you may sit down by yourself, with your staff, or with the board of your company to decide how and to whom you will dedicate your giving. Devise a plan, make goals, and then set a schedule to reevaluate your goals and assess your progress.
The first thought many people have when it comes to giving back is the giving of money. Money is always helpful, and charities and organizations can put those funds to what they need most, ensuring it is always a very useful gift.
Your business can give money by collecting it from others, perhaps from a prominently displayed donation jar or online donation campaign. It also can give money from its own coffers (what is that?), either a set amount or a percentage of its quarterly or yearly profits. Some businesses hold special sale days or sales on certain products and pledge to give a percentage of the sales to a specific charity.
Yet another option is a company match program in which your company matches the amount of a donation given by an employee to the charity of their choice. Money is always a welcome choice, no matter the amount. But there are other options.
A charity drive is a great opportunity for employees and companies who enjoy seeing what their funds are used to purchase. With a charity donation drive, employees purchase and gather items needed by a cause or organization your business selects. This can be a rewarding way to foster a sense of goal-oriented teamwork.
During the holidays, many organizations have family wish lists they can provide for you and your team to fulfill. The back-to-school season is a hardship for some families, and a school supply drive would be a much-appreciated effort by many students and their families.
Similar opportunities exist for many organizations and causes. Items can be collected at the office and may even be delivered by your employees when the drive is complete. Working together to assist others is an easy way for coworkers to see and celebrate the benefits of their collective efforts.
Athletic Event Team
If you have employees who embrace athletics, your business can either put on a fundraising athletic event or sponsor a team to participate in one. Walkathons and marathons are venues that raise money for all sorts of causes. A business can support deeper relationships with its employees and with the public by supporting global and local causes that are meaningful to its staff.
Share Your Skills
Sometimes the thing that benefits those in need the most is not a thing; it is the skills you and your business have to offer. Paying people for their time and knowledge can exceed the funds available to an organization. The difference people make by donating their skills can be worth more than money.
These people can share a sense of humanity with those they help. By interacting with those in need, they are able to experience directly the joy of knowing they have made a difference.
An inspiring example of giving back through donations of time and skill is the work done by the Crystal Foundation. For example, some plastic surgery practices offer their services as a form of charity for the Children of Mexico Project. Although efforts are focused primarily on work done for children at a clinic in Guerrero, Mexico, the project grew to cover less fortunate children in the United States as well.
Through the Crystal Foundation, doctors and nurses of some plastic surgery practices volunteer their time and skills to perform state-of-the-art facial reconstructions for children with congenital deformities such as cleft palates. Doctors also treat congenital hand anomalies and burn injuries.
With funds donated by the public and donations of supplies and medications by hospitals and clinics, families are transformed. Each year during a trip to Mexico, volunteer doctors perform approximately 50 surgeries to change and improve the lives of children. These surgeries are a benefit these children and their families could otherwise never afford.
Skill sharing can take many forms. From computer skills to construction, organizations can often use the work you have to offer. Contact companies and see what they need. If you do not find someone who can use you, perhaps you could develop an organization to benefit a cause that is meaningful to you, your employees, and your customers.
What We Give
You give more than just money, time, or skills when you give back to the community. You give a piece of yourself. In giving that piece, you gain so much more. You may indeed improve the optics of your company. You may gain the respect of others and you might increase your business as you become more visible to the public.
The most valuable piece you gain, however, is knowing that you have used your business to make the world a better place, to give people better lives, and to give the gift of hope. By helping others, you enable them to help others as well. The stronger community you help to build by giving back benefits everyone.
 Jason Notte, “Why Millennials Are More Charitable Than the Rest of You,” The Street (The Street, Inc., January 26, 2018), https://www.thestreet.com/lifestyle/why-millennials-are-more-charitable-14445741.