While we may be in awe of companies like Google, Apple and Disney, the vast majority of the U.S. is made up of small businesses, those with less than 500 employees. With over 50% of the working population working for a small businesses, their cumulative impact is enormous so why not put it towards good use, like philanthropy.
With all of the good that philanthropy does, its connotation is often associated with headlines and big dollar contributions by the wealthiest 1% – Buffet, Gates, Zuckerberg. But instead, philanthropy simply means “love of humanity.” So we’re redefining philanthropy by showing you 10 ways small businesses can give without writing a big check.
Allow Employees to Volunteer
1. Allow time off to volunteer during the workweek by setting a designated number of hours a year (such as 4, 8, or 16 hours per year). Companies can allow employees off campus or find innovative ways like TutorMate, which is an online tutoring program, where employees can stay at work but still give their time.
2. Establish a Dollars for Doers Program. Designate a contribution amount ($50, $100, $500) to the employee’s charity of choice for volunteering a certain number of hours with the company. In essence, employees get “dollars for doing.”
3. Participate in a day of service where the entire company comes together on a specific day or weekend to volunteer. Organizations like Rebuilding Together Broward provide wonderful day of service opportunities.
Look at Your Business Model and See How You Can Help
4. Donate in-kind product to a charity. Nipro Diagnostics is able to donate thousands of glucose monitoring meters and test strips to relief organizations that help treat millions of diabetic patients.
5. Look at what your company does well, and integrate it into your corporate philanthropy strategy. For example, LinkedIn recently launched Volunteer LinkedIn as an avenue where nonprofit groups and interested volunteers can find each other.
6. Manpower. Your company’s biggest asset could be the number of employees working for you. Disaster relief charities are always in need of volunteers during a time of crisis so training your workforce to fill the demand is an easy way to help.
7. Not all sponsorships have to be about cash. Companies can offer their facility to host events/meetings/conferences or assist with printing invitations or programs.
Match Employees’ Skill-set with a Nonprofit
8. Match a company employee with a nonprofit board. Broward College hosts a Board Matching event where they invite faculty/staff to learn about various charity opportunities and see where their skillset best fits a nonprofit board or committee.
9. Offer pro-bono services. Sometimes charities are in need of free legal, HR, business coaching, strategic planning or accounting work done.
10. Know your employees’ strengths. Another initiative Broward College is launching is their Speakers Bureau. They pair their expert faculty/staff with nonprofits that are looking for speakers for keynote addresses, panels, seminars, etc.
One thing is for sure, as a small business owner you are not alone. There are 28 million small businesses across the US traveling the same road as you each and every day. If every small business gave a little towards making our community better, the world may in fact just be a little better place to be.