Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and formalized programs for social good have often been viewed as strategies implemented by global companies. Rarely is the concept adopted by small businesses, perhaps because of the perceived cost or the idea that making an impact requires a big campaign with expansive reach.
However, you can still make a huge difference on a small budget. When done correctly, aligning your business’s values with a cause that is important to you, as well as your customers, can help lead to increased sales. In fact, CSR’s profit potential is precisely why larger businesses invest considerable resources in learning how to make the world a better place.
Whether for purely unselfish reasons or to generate more sales, here are three actionable ways your business can give back to the community without breaking the bank.
Most people are searching for information that they can use to benefit their own lives or live more responsibly. This is especially true with the Gen Z and millennial demographic groups who want to feel like they are doing things that really matter in life and have a purpose in relation to the world around them.
To do this, focus on the issues you feel passionate about and where you feel like you can add knowledge and experience that would be useful for your audience. Once you have the topics, create content around those issues that you can post on your social media sites, blog, email newsletters, or other channels where you know your audience engages with your business.
The best format to use tends to be video content, followed by other visuals like case studies with pictures and infographics. However, formatting regular content with easy-to-spot takeaways can work just as well.
Within the last 10 years, a CSR movement has formed among startups and entrepreneurs that focuses on working with local, regional, and national government agencies to help solve critical social issues using innovative technology. This movement is championed by small businesses who work in partnership with local government organizations on committees, programs, and projects that develop job creation programs, tackle environmental issues, and even address other social concerns like homelessness.
Additionally, these partnerships are leading to new online/offline initiatives and apps that are helping improve the quality of life for citizens and make businesses run more efficiently. Many of these projects may actually provide additional revenue, as well as help your business tackle positive social initiatives.
To get involved, find out what your local city is working on and identify gaps where skills and knowledge could be useful to these government agencies. Discover what types of projects and vendors are currently working on specific social and Govtech projects by looking on your city government website. By contacting those vendors directly, you may have a better chance of getting directly involved in working on that social project and helping make your corner of the world a much better place to live and work.
While you may not have a lot of money to donate to a cause or social issue, your time can be just as valuable a resource for local organizations. For example, you can micro-mentor, which involves sharing your professional knowledge with another small business to help them develop and become a positive economic force in your community.
Other ideas include sharing your expertise online by answering questions on sites like Quora, Career Village, or SCORE. There are also numerous other organizations to join that offer volunteer opportunities both locally and virtually. For example, Goodwill helps people re-enter the workforce. Junior Achievement is a not-for-profit organization that allows you to work with young people to inspire them toward entrepreneurial success.
With so many options available, you can find opportunities that align with your interests, passion, and knowledge, as well as fit into your busy schedule.
If you’re ready to start implementing a CSR campaign, start with a small project or volunteer assignment and see how you can increase your efforts over time. Work toward solving a social issue and encourage others to get involved.