Supporting your local community isn’t just about getting that warm fuzzy feeling – it could have a really positive impact on your business too.
Check out our top tips for getting more involved in your community and find out how it can help your business flourish…
The success of small businesses and the communities they serve go hand in hand. Embrace a bit of community spirit and you can help your neighbourhood to thrive while your business reaps the benefits.
It’s about doing the right thing and getting rewarded for it. Of course it takes more effort but in a world of increasingly socially responsible consumers, fostering a sense of goodwill in your community will help you to stand out against your competitors, giving you an edge over the large, impersonal multinationals that only focus on bottom lines.
So how can you help? Read our guide to getting more involved in your local community and why it’s good for business…
Create a volunteering culture
Look around for local volunteering opportunities, ideally ones that are connected in some way to your business, your skill set, or your customer base. Or speak to your staff and see if there’s a cause they would be particularly interested in helping.
It could be a one-off local project, like helping to plant a community garden, or it could be providing a regular service for a local charity, like helping manage their website. The Do It volunteering database is a great place to look for local opportunities.
Get your staff involved in the planning and execution. Volunteering as a team is a great way of building a strong, cohesive and happy workplace culture. You could even consider a scheme where employees can use a number of working hours per month to help with local good causes. Or look for a team volunteering opportunity instead of your next office away day.
Organise a sponsored challenge for a local charity
This is another great team building exercise. We’re thinking along the lines of the Ice Bucket Challenge or the Three Peaks challenge. Your staff will love getting involved to help a good cause and challenges like these are great for group bonding. Plus these sorts of challenges are great for sharing on social media.
Sponsor a local group or event
See if there’s a local sports team or cultural group you can sponsor. This could mean helping with buying kit or equipment or it could even involve donating your space to a local group to meet in one night a week. This is a good way to amplify your presence in the neighbourhood and it can provide cost-effective local advertising. Likewise, sponsoring or helping out with a charity event can get your name out and about in a very positive way.
Get involved in local events
Keep up to date with what is going on in your neighbourhood. Even small communities will usually have annual events you can attend on behalf of your business, whether it’s a summer fair or a local craft market. You could set up a stall or just go along and join in. It’s a great way of networking with your local community and it will give you a real insight into your local customer base.
Serve on a local board or council
If there is a local board or council connected to your business then see how you can get involved. Not only will this place you at the heart of the decision making process it will give you an insight into the challenges facing your community. Plus it will provide priceless networking opportunities.
Contribute and participate with other local businesses
You want your community to get behind your business so lead by example and support other local businesses. This could mean buying supplies or raw materials from local producers, or it could mean partnering with another firm on a complementary service and reciprocating when it comes to referrals.
Buying local can cut down on costs and help contribute to the local economy. Meanwhile, partnering with other local businesses can create a useful support network and a sense of camaraderie that will be invaluable if the going gets tough.
Run local workshops
Look for ways you can add value to your community by running knowledge-sharing workshops that complement the services or products you sell. Not only is this invaluable advertising for your company, it positions your business as a benevolent source of expertise.
Look to local non-profit organisations that support people looking for work and start a mentoring scheme to provide useful training and workplace experience. Not only will you be making a big difference in someone’s life, you might also find a potentially great new employee who just needed someone to give them a break.
Reward your local fans
Everyone loves a freebie. Give back to the people that support you most with special rewards or discounts. This will help increase local footfall to your business and help to build a regular customer base you can count on.
Remember, take care of your community and your community will take care of you.