You see a lot of big companies doing this thing called “corporate social responsibility.” It’s seems like the trendy thing now. They’re donating to charities and making sure they’re environmentally friendly. But is that for you?
Sure, it would be nice to give back, but it would also be nice to that profit margin to spare. It’s easy for large corporations to spare a small percentage from their massive cash reserves, but is it possible for small businesses?
I think so. Not only is corporate social responsibility and charity completely feasible for a business of any size, it’s actually essential for future growth.
Why Giving Should Be in Your Business Plan
Let’s get the obvious reason out of the way – it’s just a good thing to do. Most would agree that whether you’re an individual or a business, it’s a good thing to be charitable and do something that benefits the community.
But being charitable is also profitable. How?
We know that there are a lot of factors that influence a customer’s decision to buy from a particular brand – identity, social proof, affinity.
But another major factor is generosity.
Customers Prefer Companies That Give
As consumers become more socially conscious, they’re intentionally looking for brands that have the same values.
They’re looking for brands that donate to nonprofits, that are environmentally friendly, that have transparent supply chains, that improve the communities they source from, that volunteer locally, and that treat people fairly.
And they’re willing to pay more for that.
The Proof is in the ROI
Project ROI, a study that looks at the ROI of companies that participate in corporate social responsibility initiatives, found that there was a measurable improvement. Here are some of the results:
- Increase in market value by 6%
- Increase revenue by 20%
- Ability to increase prices by 20%
- Reduce staff turnover by 50%
- Increase employee productivity by 13%
Ways to Give Back
There are a lot of different ways to be generous with your business, and it really depends on your industry and what makes the most sense for you.
You’ll find the most success, though, when you give towards a cause that’s related to your business. For example, if you’re a restaurant, give towards alleviating hunger. If you’re a law firm, you can give towards school scholarships or advocating for the less fortunate.
Here are a few ideas
Donate a Percentage of Sales
Simply write a check to a nonprofit. You can market this as a set amount or a percentage depending on sales. This can be ongoing or for a specific season. For example, a clothing store could donate $1 for every shirt sold to nonprofit helping the poor.
Have Employees Volunteer
Your staff could volunteer at a local nonprofit. This can be done individually, where employees volunteer at a nonprofit of their choice, or you could go together as a team. For example, many companies will send one of their department teams to spend a day building houses for Habitat for Humanity. They all wear their company shirts, take pictures, and it becomes great marketing material.
In addition to having your staff volunteer, you can also have them donate. Whatever they donate to a nonprofit of their choice, or from a list that you choose, you match their donation to that nonprofit, up to a specific amount.
If your business has products or services that are valuable to nonprofit, you could donate those. For example, an electronics store can donate cameras, printers, computers, phones or other items to a nonprofit. A consultancy business could offer free consultations for a nonprofit. The great thing about these kinds of donations is they don’t impact your bottom line as much as a direct monetary donation, and you could also write them off as charitable deductions.
Sponsorships are a great way to get publicity for your business. Nonprofits will often host charity events like golf tournaments, galas, or silent auctions. By donating to be a sponsor for that event, or by donating products or services to be auctioned off or used for the event, you would also be advertising your brand to the events participants. It’s charity that’s also marketing.
This has to do more with how you do business than giving, but it is an act of charity. In fact, the morality of your business may be more important than donating, and certainly cannot be covered up by donating. This covers a wide range of areas, but can include ensuring that your products and packaging are eco-friendly, that your supply chains are transparent and not tangled up in forced unfair labor, or that the communities that you operate in or source from are not negatively impacted by your business.
Nothing Wrong with Talking About It
When you engage in corporate social responsibility and generosity with your business, you need to market it. It may seem like cheesy self-promotion that customers would see through, but it’s not. Remember, customers choose businesses that do good, so they need to know that you’re being charitable and responsible.
Plus it’s actually good for charity, because if they know about your business and buy from you, it actually enables you to be even more generous.
So donate to nonprofits. Volunteer your time and services. Run your business so it has a positive impact on the environment and the community.
Doing good isn’t just good for the world, it’s really good for business.
I’m a web designer, marketing consultant, and the creator of this site. You’ll find me reading in coffee shops or snowboarding down mountains.