When you run a small business, it’s hard to decide the best ways to fulfill your social responsibility. Social responsibility, of course, is a business’s obligation to take its community into consideration – not just focusing on profits. It’s how your business gives back to those who keep you going.
In this area, we have hundreds of charities actively seeking help. Trying to choose one can be overwhelming. Here are some tips for how to partner with a non-profit smartly:
1. First of all, choose one or two non-profits each year for your giving. Not only does that focus your efforts, but it also allows you to have charities fill out applications if they would like to be considered for the following year. This is a great way to find out what organizations are doing and which ones you’d like to support in the future. Choose only charities that you are excited about – giving less than 100% will not be fair to you or the charity.
2. Be strategic and align your giving to your business. In my case, I support veterans. My husband is a veteran and I have a special respect for the men and women that currently serve our country or have served it in the past. Because of this, every year I run a free headshot event for veterans. It’s a fabulous event and it’s well-received. I don’t try to bake cakes or give them free haircuts – I do what makes sense for my business.
3. Figure out a way to run your own event. When you create something from scratch, it allows you to do your own marketing and planning. I’ve found that donating this way works best because it allows you to utilize all your skills AND you get the opportunity to include your personal network of friends and customers. It’s also very satisfying. Just having my logo on a flyer or program requires no personal effort. Conducting a full day of headshots, however, takes a lot of time to plan and execute. If you choose a charity or group of people that you are passionate about, you won’t mind giving your time and effort away… and honestly, that charity/focused group of people greatly appreciate it.
4. Always donate to auctions. Always. It’s an inexpensive way to get press and it is an easy way to help out a variety of organizations in this area. As opposed to just having your name on a program, a donation requires you to give some sort of good or service from your business for free. Not only are you getting your logo and name out in the community AND helping raise funds for that charity, but you will most likely have a new customer trying out your product or service. That’s one more person that can talk about what you do and that can become a steady client.
For my Mother’s Day sessions this year, I am donating 100% of the session fees to the Loudoun Abused Women’s Shelter (LAWS). LAWS is an organization that I believe in, and the Mother’s Days sessions tie perfectly into their mission. For our Holiday Sessions last December, we donated 100% of our session fees to Loudoun Interfaith Relief (LIR). LIR helps feed our local community. Children and hunger are near and dear to my heart.
Be astute in your giving. As a small business owner, you can’t give to everyone all the time. You’ll go out of business if you do that. Give your time and energy in a way that is best for the charity and your business. That way, you’ll both win.