Developing a Giving Back program is an excellent way to show and act upon your commitment to social impact. It can also help you attract the right customers and employees.
Giving back to the community in which your business operates can help develop meaningful and tight relationships with local leaders and other responsible businesses. It can also help get the attention of conscious consumers that are reading behind the labels looking for opportunities to support businesses that care for building a better world. Studies have found that 70 percent of consumers will switch from one brand to another associated with a cause they favor. In this sense, developing a giving-back program is a great way of growing your business.
What is a giving back program?
It is a series of initiatives that businesses engage in, usually in partnership with nonprofit organizations, to address a social or environmental cause. These initiatives may include money or product donations, employee volunteerism, and specific policies such as buying from local vendors.
Implementing a consistent giving-back program is the opportunity for your business to stand out authentically.
Why is it important for small businesses?
Today, a rising number of people want to buy from, work for, and connect with businesses that give back and are committed to addressing the world’s most pressing problems.
We like to say when you give, you get back, and that is the outcome of an effective giving back strategy: To generate a win-win program in which you help address a social or environmental cause. In return, your business is rewarded by employees who are more engaged and productive because they feel they are part of something bigger than just a job; by customers who stay loyal to your business because they identify with your products and the cause you are helping address; and by the fidelity of a community that is thankful for your contribution and commitment.
In the end, an effective giving back strategy helps boost your brand, differentiate from your competition, and attract mind-like individuals and partners. Even more, it is an excellent networking opportunity. Yet, the most important aspect to highlight for small business owners is the long-lasting and supportive relationships you can develop with those around you.
The challenge for small businesses
Small enterprises face many challenges when trying to implement an effective giving back program, from lack of proper planning to long-term commitment, and especially lack of funds to pursue philanthropic desires.
As with anything in life or business, proper planning is essential to ensure an organized execution. Proper planning requires that you or your team take the time to think about how you will engage your community, clients, and employees with your program, how through your program you can maximize impact, and if the selected program has the potential to expand your influence.
We recommend being clear and specific about your contribution to the selected cause or organization. For example, if you decide to make money donations be open and direct about it:
We donate 5% of our sales to XYZ
We donate 1% of our profit to XYZ
For every pair of shoes you buy, we donate one to someone in need and name the country or organization
Your purchase of product X, helps us feed 10 kids and name the country or organization you are helping
When you are open and direct about your method of contribution, your clients see transparency, which ultimately grows trust and loyalty, the most precious emotions you can generate in your clients.
The lack of funds is also often a massive challenge for small businesses that are struggling to stay afloat. To get around this barrier, being creative with your way of contribution is a must. Consider alternatives to money donations such as offering your employees paid time off to volunteer on behalf of your business, donating samples or products, offering your expertise, or sponsoring a local event or a team. You can always start small and expand from there. Remember that a growing commitment is better than no commitment and that the success of a partnership is not correlated to the size of the investment. It is the difference that the partners are making, not the size of the check, that counts.
Talking about commitment, we found that sporadic acts of kindness are noble. However, they don’t generate that meaningful connection your business is seeking. A consistent giving back program rather than random acts of corporate philanthropy pay forward in the long term. The key is finding the right partner.
How to find the right partner
When nonprofits and local businesses work together, both parties benefit. The nonprofit gets the word out about its cause and expands its donor base, and your business boosts sales and exposure in your community. It may sound too good to be true, but it’s not.
The first step of forming partnerships is deciding what type of organization you want to work with. Try to find one that has the same values as your business so the association feels natural and not forced. Focus on organizations that address specific causes rather than big aspirational goals so your employees and clients can recognize your impact. Finally, make sure they can continue their success into the future, in other words, that they have a solid financial position. Lastly, your product/service should have some relationship to the cause that the organization serves to help your clients make a connection and associate your business with your desired impact.
At TBB, we help businesses develop their own unique and meaningful giving-back strategy. We help to find the right partner and create a win-win program for both sides. If you decide you want to be more than just a business owner, and you want to do good through your business, then contact us, and we will help you be an agent of change, grow your business, and amplify your influence. We promise increased profitability and a rewarding sense of purpose!