During the holiday season, small businesses have the opportunity to truly affect change in their community through service. Besides creating “feel good moments” within your business, your philanthropic efforts may also create both a direct benefit to your bottom line and a strengthening of your brand.
Here are a few ways that assisting the community can be a winning strategy for your small business.
Relationships, Coalitions and Networks
Partnering on important initiatives often involves working with key influencers in your community. I first opened my small business, a day spa and salon in Washington, D.C., more than 10 years ago. I was often contacted by community leaders such as school presidents, politicians and nonprofit organizations to donate services, gift certificates and/or co-sponsor events. Whether it was breast cancer awareness month or donating to a school’s fundraiser, the relationships and goodwill I developed by participating were immense.
Additionally, those key influencers had large networks. By being affiliated with them, they told their memberships about my business. In return, some of the members would come in at a later date and support us. Those relationships were critical to my small business, and what started out as a right thing to do was ultimately great for my bottom line as well.
Community service activities and small businesses can be a winning partnership for developing media relationships and segments. Working with several TV producers and magazine editors over the years has given me insight as to what makes a story newsworthy. Feel-good stories about the community rank high, particularly during the holiday season.
When I had my small business, I did an annual event where our staff gave complimentary spa and hair services to women in transition at a local women's shelter. The story was picked up by several prominent media outlets. Showing how your business is doing good for others can help your brand as well as provide PR opportunities.
Strengthen Brand Awareness
Community service events can be effective tools for creating a positive brand identity and awareness. Melvin E. Key, CEO of MVP Protective Services, a security company based in Maryland, provides event and personal security services for leaders and organizations worldwide.
However, Key believes that one must “do good to do good,” so he offers women complimentary self-defense classes as a way to give back to his community. Such efforts expand his brand awareness beyond his traditional clientele in a unique and positive way.
A Stronger Company
Not only may community service help your bottom line and your brand in the community, it also can be valuable to your team members. Many employees participate in charitable efforts outside the workplace and have expressed a passion to be part of something greater than just making a product or providing the service.
Ask your team members about organizations they belong to outside the office and consider ways to support those organizations that mean so much to your employees. These are authentic ways to support your team, show that you value them and assist the community, thus working to create a win-win from the inside out.
Read more articles about branding.
A version of this article was originally published on November 23, 2015.