As a small business owner, you have a unique opportunity to become an integral part of your community and to encourage your staff to do the same.
Community involvement shows society that your business cares about the people and environment it operates in. As an added benefit, getting involved can also help to raise the profile of your company. The vast majority of consumers in the U.S. report that they factor in corporate social responsibility when making purchasing decisions.
If you're looking for ways your business can participate in local events or initiatives, here are five ideas to get you started:
1. Sponsor Youth Sports Teams
Sponsoring a local sports team may involve paying for uniforms, equipment and facility rentals, but it's a great way to get involved in your surrounding community. Look for opportunities to assist with coaching or hosting team barbecues and other fun events — so you and your staff can meet the parents and kids on the team. Contact local children's sports teams to find out how sponsorship works in your area.
2. Support Your Employees' Volunteer Efforts
Oftentimes, a business's community involvement grows from employees' volunteer efforts. Talk to your staff about their favorite local causes, events and charities. Whether it's raising funds for a new hospital or awareness for children's diabetes, building on your employees' efforts not only gets your business involved, it also shows your staff that you care about what's important to them as individuals.
3. Host a Community Event
Opening the doors to your office or shop and hosting a fundraising event for a favorite local charity is a great way to welcome the community to your business. Popular events that small businesses can host include a fashion show, wine tasting, silent auction, karaoke or talent competition, pancake breakfast, bake sale or even a chili cook-off. Just be sure to check the local bylaws and fire codes to ensure you aren't violating any regulations when hosting your event.
4. Volunteer Your Business Expertise
Sometimes, the best contribution to community involvement is to offer your experience and expertise to a local project. Whatever your skills are — accounting, landscaping, construction, etc. — donating your time, labor and efforts will be appreciated. You don't have to be building-oriented to make a difference. If you run a coffee shop or restaurant, offer to provide refreshments to the construction or landscaping volunteers.
5. Join the Local Chamber of Commerce
You may be interested in a more formal way to get involved in your community, so consider joining your local Chamber of Commerce or neighborhood business improvement organization. You'll meet other business owners and you may get to participate in decisions and projects that affect your community. This is also a great way to model community involvement to your employees.