There has been an ever-increasing expectation for businesses to support their local communities in recent years. The rise of CSR programs across the corporate space mean that avoiding some form of social engagement is almost impossible. Out of the world’s top 250 largest companies, 92% of them produce CSR reports every year. It doesn’t just stop at the big players either, plenty of companies, from local mom ‘n’ pop retailers right up to huge multinationals all do things to help their community.
Businesses operating in the modern market need to give something back. However, starting this process can be daunting as a business owner. That’s why I’ve compiled a list of three ways that you can ensure your company gives back to the community. If every business started with some small steps like these, then consumers all over the globe would soon be reaping the rewards.
Giving money to a cause may seem obvious, but plenty of companies still neglect to do this. Since 2016, corporate philanthropy has increased by 11%. In 2018, the world’s top 250 companies gave away $25.7 billion, an amount not to be sniffed at.
As a growing business or a startup, these figures are eye watering. However, just because these companies are giving away more than your business’ entire turnover each year doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t donate anything in the first place.
If you start small and give to local causes, you will feel the effects in your community much more than if you were to donate to charities abroad or to a multinational NGO. The personal benefits will also be amplified, especially as you will see the good that your own company does in the community where it operates.
If your company is growing rapidly, or if it is already there, it may be time to set up a charitable arm of the business. This is an especially effective idea if your business’ trust or foundation is closely aligned with the work that your business does. Examples of this include AstraZeneca’s Science Teaching Trust, where the pharmaceutical company provides science education, or the Indiabulls Foundation, a charitable initiative founded to provide healthcare and education to the underprivileged in India.
As a new business, you may be struggling to keep the lights on, and that’s before you even think about giving back to the community. If you can’t afford to donate money, then donating your business’ time is something that is always worth considering.
Many businesses run free workshops for the community, such as teaching business skills, or even doing keynote speeches in schools to get more young people into entrepreneurship. All this goes a long way to making a difference in where they are from.
Another way you can have the same effect is by giving your employees paid volunteering days. By doing this, you are killing two birds with one stone. Your employees get to help out a cause they are passionate about, while you as a business give back to the community. This can be a great method to increase employee morale while doing something positive for the local area.
Sometimes it’s best to think outside the box. While the suggestions I’ve listed here are quite general, there is certainly no harm in finding something that works for you! Like I mentioned earlier, the best ways to give back to the community are those that are closely aligned with what your business already does.
For example, if you are a caterer or a chain or restaurant, you could donate meal boxes or leftover food to homeless shelters or local schools. If your business runs on a subscription model, you could give the first month’s subscription free to local residents. Likewise, if you are an educational technology company, you could donate your product to after-school programs or libraries to spread its benefits and give yourself some free advertising.
Some companies, such as TOMS, even built giving into the fabric of their company ethos. Since its foundation, they have gifted a third of their profits to supporting various grassroots efforts. If you can find a way to do this, there’s no end to the social value that you can create.
As you can see, there are a huge number of ways for your business to give back to the community. The real trick is finding the one that works for you. Whether that’s something as simple as giving donations to causes that you think are important, right down to the more bespoke options that I’ve just mentioned, businesses, no matter their size, can no longer afford to not give something back.