There's a lot of talk about corporate social responsibility, especially as it relates to larger corporations. The bigger the company, the more funds available to staff entire teams to focus on CSR initiatives. As a result, they can often make a significant impact in the community — be it in man-hours or actual money.
But this shouldn’t stop all other businesses from giving back. After all, corporate giving can improve a company’s image, while helping to retain workers and improve employee engagement. In fact, you may save in salary costs by integrating CSR initiatives into your business model, as 45 percent of people would take a pay cut to work for a company that makes a social impact.
All it takes is a little creativity to come up with ways to give back, and the following are often the best places to start.
Work the Food Bank
Almost all cities have a food bank, and they’re often in need of help outside of the holiday season. Contact those in your area to see when they may need your help, and then get to work on creating an initiative around it. For example, during the Flint, Michigan water crisis, our team members volunteered their time to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, sorting bottled water and assembling food packages for the community.
Sponsor a Sports Team
Chances are, you know someone with a child on a youth sports team — like one of your employees. Most of the time, the investment of time and money is minimal, and your business will benefit from that friendly publicity that often comes with your logo emblazoned on the jerseys. In other words, youth sports sponsorship is the perfect philanthropic opportunity for small-to-midsize businesses looking to give back to the community.
Hold a Charity Drive
Limited funds and time shouldn’t keep your company from being charitable. Consider starting a food, clothing, or book drive either in the office or out in the community. You can even make the drive specific to the season. For example, Anton’s Cleaners in Massachusetts holds an annual coat drive through Coats for Kids. Each year, the company collects, cleans, and distributes more than 60,000 coats for both kids and adults.
Donate Your Services
Charitable organizations often operate on a shoestring budget and with a barebones staff, which presents a very unique opportunity for even the smallest of companies to lend a helping hand. Let’s say, for example, you run a small accounting firm. Your team could volunteer their services to not just balance the nonprofit’s ledger but find ways to cut costs for the organization.
Mentor Local Youth
Many businesses are now getting involved in youth mentorship. Part of this has to do with what it can do for a company: increase its visibility and fosters greater engagement among staff. But it also cultivates the skills necessary for tomorrow’s workforce to really succeed. Look for ways your company can use its experience to mentor kids.
At Advantage Resourcing, team members volunteer with the Junior Achievement program, where kids learn how to operate an actual business.
Use the Collective Approach
Deep pockets aren’t a necessity when taking on a social mission. Consider partnering with other companies in your community to establish a philanthropic fund. Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, wife of Netscape founder Marc Andreessen, created Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund, where investors pool their money to give large, multi-year grants to charitable organizations. In one year alone, SV2 gave nearly $450,000 in grant money to local nonprofits and social enterprises.