In the face of natural disasters and other large-scale crises in the United States, it has become routine for major corporations to donate products, services and/or funds to help get a community back on its feet. The most recent example of this in Texas is the assistance given by corporations throughout the nation when Hurricane Harvey devastated the Houston region.
Apple made a $2 million donation to the Red Cross and made it possible for the public to donate through iTunes or its App Store. PetSmart contributed $1 million to help Houston SPCA, the SPCA of Texas, Rescue Bank, Houston PetSet and others who are working to rescue, relocate and care for pets that were impacted by the storm. Toyota pledged $3 million in assistance. Chevron contributed $1 million to the Red Cross and is matching donations made by its employees and retirees. Peterbilt Motors Co., headquartered right here in Denton, sent two of its 18-wheelers filled with supplies to Houston to aid relief efforts.
While these contributions have the potential to change lives in situations of crisis, the contributions that small businesses make in their communities on a regular basis also can be impactful.
There are many ways a small business can contribute to the community in which it's located. One of the most tangible ways is through local volunteerism. While it can be challenging for a small business owner to take the time to be away from her business, the rewards of contributing are numerous and can significantly benefit both the business and the community.
If, for example, a business owner serves on a nonprofit board, she may learn new skills that can be employed in her own operation, meet new people that she might not have an opportunity to meet otherwise (and some could even become new customers), strengthen marketing and brand reputation of the business, and she might realize a sense of personal fulfillment.
If the business empowers its employees to volunteer, morale could be strengthened as well. The nonprofit benefits by being able to capitalize on the expertise of the business owner and its employees, as well as by potential financial, in-kind or volunteer support.
Other ways in which a business can contribute to its community include:
· Sponsoring youth activities (e.g. teams, science fairs, music events);
· Cross-marketing with other businesses to encourage "buy local" economy stimulation;
· Buying products and services from other local businesses;
· Donating a portion of proceeds to charity;
· Participating in building or sponsoring a house through Habitat for Humanity;
· Instituting local recycling or environmental sustainability programs;
· Developing a local grant or scholarship program; and
· Offering your services pro bono or donating goods to a charity.
When a business effectively balances its professional interests with the needs of the community, it not only promotes a stronger bottom line but also builds community support and contributes to a healthier, more prosperous community. In the end, both the business and the community are better for it.