The holiday season is a time for giving, and with research showing that half of the world’s consumers are willing to pay more for goods and services from companies that “give back,” giving is more than a nice holiday gesture — it’s good business.
Despite a difficult year for many small businesses amid changing legislation, a government shutdown and natural disasters, the spirit of giving remains strong. In fact, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of small businesses in the Washington area have already contributed or plan to contribute to a charitable cause or nonprofit organization this year, according to Capital One’s latest Market Pulse Survey. Meanwhile, local communities and charity organizations are in need of resources.
So, how can small-business owners give back, not just during the holiday season, but all year long?
Here are some practical tips for small-business owners who want to be charitable without breaking the bank:
Identify the need: What causes have the most impact in your area, and which ones align with your company’s areas of expertise? Identify the charities with the greatest need that can benefit most from your business’ strengths in order to maximize the results of your efforts. For example, according to our market pulse survey, many small firms and consumers in the D.C. region are likely to donate to organizations addressing poverty.
Create strategic partnerships within the community: When considering ways to give back, small business owners should remember they’re not alone. For areas of need in the community outside of your business’ strengths, reach out to an existing community organization to see how you can work together to help make a positive difference.
Web sites such as Charity Navigator can be helpful resources to research local nonprofits and organizations.
Imbed giving into your holiday sales: Commit to donating a small dollar amount per purchase — or a percentage of sales — to a charity of you choice around the holidays, and promote your cause and resulting donations with free mobile apps that allow you to share special offers, coupons and promotions through e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. It’s a great way to engage customers and make them feel good about their purchases.
Turn giving into team building: Communities need more than “checkbook philanthropy” to grow economically. Small-business owners should consider leveraging employees for volunteer programs based on the needs or interests of their community. Shape the philanthropic culture of your organization while also providing a team bonding opportunity. Check out organizations such as Higher Achievement, a student tutoring group, and Academy of Hope, which helps area residents with résumé writing and interviewing skills.
In addition to the above tips, various online resources exist for small businesses looking to get started with corporate social responsibility. The Small Business Administration (www.sba.gov) offers tips regarding ways to make your business more sustainable, as well as important advice on the benefits of charitable giving and tax deductions. Additionally, your local chamber of commerce should be able to provide tips for small businesses on how to run a more sustainable and socially responsible business.
Tony Pica is the business banking group executive and market president of Northern Virginia at McLean-based Capital One Bank.