Grow Your Small Business By Giving BackThe holiday season is often referred to as the “season of giving.” Although the act of giving can be rewarding in and of itself, it can also benefit your small business.

As a small business owner, you’re an integral part of your community and you no doubt have social and community issues that you care deeply about. By giving generously to the causes you care about, you not only improve the quality of life of your beneficiaries, but you can also enhance your company’s image in a lasting way.

Chances are you’re already personally involved in charitable activities within your community. There are countless social programs that serve underrepresented segments of society. The programs seek to touch the lives of the people they serve and solve some of life’s toughest problems.

Through your small business, you too touch the lives of those within your community.  In your own way, you help your neighbors solve problems by providing products and services that better their lives.

Many business owners, however, feel that it is crass or exploitive to associate their business name with charitable giving they’re already involved in on a personal level.  But there’s no shame in benefiting your business, provided you go about giving the right way. Here are a couple of tips to get you started.

Be Involved

Most charitable organizations are cash-strapped, especially in today’s tough economy.  Most of them also lack the resources and skill needed to effectively market their activities to the community.  As a small business owner, your social connections and marketing savvy can be invaluable to the charities you support.

By promoting the causes your company supports on your company Web site, blog, Facebook Fan Page and traditional media ads, you can reach a far greater number of potential benefactors. You might also consider contacting your local newspaper, television and radio stations and suggesting that they do a story on the program you’re supporting.

Press releases are also an effective marketing tool that should be considered. Such activities can have a domino effect and cause individuals and other local businesses to get involved in the cause.

Be Passionate

Chances are your success in business was due at least in part to your passion for what you do. When selecting a social program to support, you should choose one that you care passionately about.

Maybe you’re a parent who’s passionate about the quality of education available in your local community, or a pet owner with a deep compassion for animals. Maybe you’ve experienced poverty or hunger and want to spare others that hardship.  Bringing the same passion that made your business successful to the cause will help ensure that it too is a success.

You should also be careful not to let that passion cloud your judgment. Be realistic about the level of support you can offer the program. It’s better to start out small and increase your giving over time than to over-commit.  In many cases, giving of your time and assets can be as valuable as financial support.

Be Prepared

Before supporting any program in such a public way, you should consider whether or not doing so would be a polarizing issue that could actually harm your brand. Likewise, you should consider which other local businesses may have already tied their brand to the cause since, in business as in your personal life, you are judged to some degree by the company you keep.

You should also be aware that publicly promoting your company’s support for one program typically generates solicitations for help from other social programs. So be prepared to spend time evaluating these requests and, in some cases, saying “no.”

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