Call it social responsibility, good business or simply good karma. Whatever you call it, it matters, whether your business is a multinational corporation or if you work alone at your kitchen table. Running a socially responsible business is not only possible, but vital.
Today 90% of consumers want to know what companies are doing to make the world a better place. Not only that, four in five say they wish brands would support causes and would consider switching brands to one that supports a cause.
Corporations and large businesses are taking that to heart. Yet what if you are a small business with just a few employees or that solopreneur at the kitchen table? Small businesses can still make a big impact, being just as socially responsible as their larger counterparts. Below are several easy ways to start making your small business more socially responsible right now.
Whether you have employees or work as a solopreneur, you can still support socially responsible efforts by doing the following:
Support other socially responsible businesses. Watch where you are purchasing supplies and other resources for your business. Put your dollars towards those companies that give back, make ethical products, or utilize strict sustainability efforts. Purchase recycled paper and other materials.
Donate a portion of your proceeds to charity. If you can’t afford it, you can find a way to donate in some way. Perhaps you can donate a portion of the proceeds from one month of the year or a portion of proceeds from a particular initiative.
Host a drive. It could be a coat drive, a food drive, a toy drive or another type of goods or services drive. Hosting a drive is easy, can be done several times a year and can provide a tremendous amount of goods to organizations and people in need. You may even consider partnering with another small business and hosting a drive together.
Look in your own backyard, so to speak. Look around your office. You might have resources, goods or services that your business could lend to an organization. This could include anything from lending office space to social media help to providing tech support.
Start a foundation. Yes, even small businesses can start a charitable foundation. For tax purposes many companies find it advantageous to start a foundation to facilitate organized giving. Organized giving is a great way for a company to maintain a commitment to being socially responsible. Another advantage of a foundation is that if you receive many requests for donations you can allocate them accordingly and consider which ones fit the mission of your foundation. Just be sure to educate yourself on the requirements involved in creating and operating a 501(c)(3) private foundation.
Walk the talk. Participate in charity events such as a 5k run/walk. Not up for that? Then donate to a 5k that supports a charity on your company’s behalf. Provide a couple of cases of water for runners. Sponsor a participant. Provide a good or service to be raffled off at an event. Become an event sponsor. (You can find events in your area at Active.com.) These are all ways that your small business can support socially responsible efforts.
Teach a man to fish. Utilize your skills by teaching others, whether it is teaching an organization how to manage their finances or teaching them how to grow using social media. Your skill set can be a valuable asset to an organization. Just like the old saying goes, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
Use your voice to raise awareness. If your company has a website or blog, use that space to build awareness of the causes you support and why you support them. Provide a link to your causes on your company’s web site. Use your social media accounts to help raise awareness of initiatives that support the cause. After all, you never know with whom your words will resonate. Social media provides a powerful tool for raising awareness and garnering funds.
Reduce, reuse and recycle. These are the mainstays of running an environmentally sound business, no matter what your size. Purchase recycled paper and other office products. Print on both sides. Need more ideas? Click here for a variety of easy ways you can make your small business more environmentally-friendly. Chances are, practicing the “three R’s” will help you to reduce your costs too.
And if you have a few employees, here are two additional ways to run a kind business:
Match employee donations to charity. If you cannot afford to match in full, you can provide a partial match or a match up to a certain dollar amount per employee. Remember that in addition to being good karma, donations are a tax write-off against your business.
Support their other socially responsible efforts. Encourage and perhaps even reward employees for their volunteer work. Consider offering a couple days of paid time off per year to do volunteer work. Even one day will make a difference to an organization in need of volunteers. If you can’t afford that option, consider a small gift card instead.
Social responsibility matters whether your business has 1 person or 100 people. So, what is your business doing today to be socially responsible?