As a small business owner, I know you are reading the headline thinking, I can barely keep up with the demands of growing my business, why would I go to the trouble of organizing a give back initiative? Can't I just write a cheque?
Sure you can, but getting involved in a cause can be good for business, good for your employees and good for your personal psyche. It is much more satisfying than writing a cheque.
To make the most impact, focus on one charity or cause and involve your employees in choosing the initiative you are going to support. We started by donating bikes to kids in need and have recently moved to helping fund entrepreneurs who don't have access to traditional capital.
Whether you're participating in an annual fundraising event, developing a matching program for your employees' favourite charities or creating your own foundation, here are 10 reasons why you should get involved:
1. It is the right thing to do. Think about all the people that helped you to start your business. Getting involved in a community project is a great way to 'pay it forward' and help others kick start their lives.
2. Feed your passion. Take that passion and put it to good work. Whether you love being an accountant or tending to a vegetable garden, that expertise can be shared to help others.
3. Talent recruitment and satisfaction. Sixty per cent of millennials said that they prefer to work for organizations that give back. We're all challenged with keeping our employees engaged. Involving them in choosing the initiative and providing them with a role that utilizes their expertise will give them leadership opportunities that they might not always be able to get at work. It's also an excellent opportunity to build an inspired team.
4. Skill building. Look for organizations that can help build or hone your employees' skills – it could be developing a website, tutoring kids or teaching business skills. Giving others your time brings interesting and challenging opportunities that might not come along otherwise
5. Build relationships. Getting involved in another organization can provide an opportunity for interaction with other volunteers, board members and sponsors. These are people that can see you 'in action,' get to know you outside of your business and could potentially use your services or recommend you.
6. Gain a new perspective. Running a small business often means we get immersed in our own world. Making a commitment to another organization provides you with an opportunity to get a new perspective on how things can be accomplished with limited resources.
7. Raise your profile. Potential customers want to feel good about the companies they work with, just like consumers want to feel good about the products they consume. Let your customers know that you are helping the community by publicizing it on your website and inviting them to participate. It provides you with another chance to grow your relationship.
8. Good for the economy. Small businesses need the economy to be healthy. If you can help an organization or an individual to improve their skills, that translates into new and diversified talent in the business world and the potential to increase productivity.
9. Limited financial resources. You may not have the ability to donate enough money to make a difference, but you can find the time.
10. It feels good. Actually, it feels great. There is nothing like personally witnessing and experiencing the difference you can make. Many studies have shown that volunteering can increase self-esteem. Doing something for someone that might not be able to do it for themselves will make you and your employees feel great.