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Giving Back as a Local Business

Giving Back as a Local Business (1)
2Dec

It’s great to see companies like Amazon give away $100 million in a period of five years, but that just isn’t possible for smaller, local businesses. And that’s fine! You can still give back to your customers, employees, and community without ten figures in annual profit. You may even have an advantage, since it’s easier for you to interact with people face-to-face!

Let me show you how you can make December your business’ month of giving back without breaking the bank!

Giving Back to Customers
No customers means no business, so you’d better demonstrate your appreciation! If money is tight right now, you’re better off skipping huge deals or rewards programs. Instead, go with something that’s completely free but remarkably effective: customer promotions!

Sharing your customers’ stories on social media tells everyone that you value them as individuals. This doesn’t mean you need to write a biography on everyone who walks through your door, but strike up a conversation with the shoppers who pop in every week. Maybe one of them has an event that they’d like you to promote, or someone would just appreciate a public recognition of their support. Find their story and tell it! The people being highlighted will appreciate the personal attention, and your followers will appreciate being more than sales to your business.

Giving Back to Your Community
Generalized advice like “Donate to charity!” isn’t worth much when you’re trying to connect with your community. These are the people who pass your store every day, so it’s in your best interest to get them on your side. What does your community need? Whether there’s been a natural disaster, a healthcare crisis, poverty, or anything else, you need to find the point of need and meet them there.

Get in touch with community leaders to see how you can help. A brief conversation with a local elected official will help you rub elbows with local government and give you a font of information about the goings-on in your community. Once you know the problem, donate time or resources to a local charity that’s already helping in that area. This way, your contribution is going where it’s need most. People in your community will appreciate that!

Giving Back to Employees
Everyone wants motivated employees. But what are you doing to make their jobs more than a means to a paycheck? Cards are great for businesses that can’t afford lavish gifts, but only if you take the time to do them right. Writing “Thanks for all the hard work!” isn’t going to make your employees feel valued. In fact, it’s probably going to annoy them more than not giving them a card at all, because you’re pointing out how little you care about them and their work.

Instead, remember each employee’s accomplishments from the past year. When did they show moments of real skill? Find these successes and tell your employees how much you appreciate the work they did. On the surface it’s the same as a regular card, but “nice work” feels very different from “We really appreciate how you handled X situation.” But don’t stop there; rave about them! Show them that you’re their biggest fan! It’s easy for employees to get caught up in monotony, so take this as an opportunity to remind them of their highlights from 2018.

Think Through Your Plans
The surefire way to ruin any attempt at giving back is to act too quickly. As a local business, you probably don’t have the luxury of being able to throw money at people and causes to solve your problems. You need to make up for your lack of funds with a plan, and the above tips are a great place to start.

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Giving Back as a National Business

Giving Back as a National Business
5Dec

‘Tis the season for giving back! As a national business, you’ve got the advantages of a larger budget for the season, but you’ll need to work harder to make your contributions feel unique and personalized. That’s why giving back in meaningful ways is so important for your business!

I’m going to walk you through how you can give to your employees, clients, and charities. If you don’t want to be seen as cold and heartless, you need to join in the holiday spirit and show people that you care about them!

Giving Back to Clients
No matter what industry you’re in, it’s safe to say that your clients could have easily gone with one of your competitors. Show that you appreciate them choosing you!

A great way to do this is to post holiday coupon codes on social media. Not only are you giving people what they want most during the holidays—deals—but you’re rewarding your most loyal customers. The people who follow you on social media are the ones who regularly buy from your business. Reward them for that!

As an added bonus, people will buy more from you when you have a sale. This is what truly effective giving back looks like—a sincere effort to help the people around you that just so happens to benefit your business!

Giving Back to Employees
Your employees aren’t just employees. They’re real people with unique passions and interests. Prove that you understand and appreciate that about them! One great strategy is to make a competition of it. Set trackable metrics for employee success and let each employee choose a charity. Those with the best performance will have donations made in their name proportional to how well they did!

You get a few advantages from this idea. First, your employees are working harder because they want to help a cause that’s important to them. It will give them an extra push to increase productivity, which can be especially useful around the holidays when many industries get busy.

Beyond that, you’re creating the opportunity to show your brand in a positive light. Use social media! You can give the winners an employee spotlight to show off how well they did, what charity they chose, and how large a contribution you made. Your employees will feel even better about their accomplishments, and your followers get to see how well you treat your workers!

Giving to Charity
Large companies donate to charities all the time. The bad news is that the majority of them are doing it wrong. It’s easy to just write a check to a random non-profit and call it a day, but that isn’t best for your business or the charity. You’ll be better served by finding a way to donate that makes sense for your business.

For example, a national restaurant chain donating to the Make-A-Wish Foundation doesn’t make a lot of sense. Sure you’d probably get some credit for helping out people in need, but ultimately, it would be too confusing for people trying to understand your brand.

But what if you ran a promotion where you matched donations to Feeding America? You could use one-liners like, “We Feed You, Now Help Us Feed Them!” The move makes sense for your brand, you’d help raise money for charity, and encouraging people to donate would simultaneously tell them how generous and thoughtful your business is.

That’s a great plan in and of itself, but you can do better. Keeping the restaurant chain scenario, why not offer your employees paid time to work in their local soup kitchens and food pantries? Share pictures of them across social media and watch the positive buzz come rolling in. This way, you get to show how considerate you are, and the charities get publicity from a national brand along with some real chefs in the kitchen!

Get Giving
As you wrap up the year, you shouldn’t be asking yourself whether you should be generous or have a successful business. When you do it right, you don’t have to choose! Use my advice to make sure your national business is humanizing itself by giving back in December!

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