How to Involve Your Small Business in Corporate Volunteering

OfficeUse the unique services or products your business provides to help the community.

Corporate volunteering leads to higher employee satisfaction and enhanced customer loyalty. For example, a study by Cone Communications and Echo Research indicates that about 82 percent of consumers factor a business?s social involvement into their shopping and purchasing decisions. On top of this, corporate volunteering gives employees a greater sense of pride in their organization and can even help spur innovation. If you?re thinking about involving your small business in corporate volunteering, here?s how:

Tell employees what you want to do. Explain the rationale, and give them the opportunity to collaborate. For example, you could set up a small team (even just a pairing of employees) to direct the volunteer efforts. Personal connections to causes often give them more resonance. For example, an employee who used to be homeless could be a great project leader in allying with Habitat for Humanity.

Assess the community to identify the greatest areas of need, and identify ways in which the business can help. For example, if you run a restaurant, you could volunteer to cater a fundraiser at the animal shelter. If you run an accounting firm, you can volunteer to do taxes for certain groups of people, such as senior citizens.

Highlight your volunteerism efforts so customers are aware of them. Blog about them and the groups or organizations you?re supporting on your website. Having personal connections behind the cause shows that your desire to help is genuine. Post on social media, and use hard numbers to show how much you?re helping. Say you run a hair salon, and provide free haircuts and colors for domestic abuse survivors. Keep a running tally of how many women you are helping or how many events you’ve held.

Adjust your hiring procedures to find civic-minded employees. Ask applicants questions that offer insight into their priorities and ability to collaborate. You want people who will support and lead your volunteerism efforts, not folks who will undermine them or be apathetic.

Perform a mix of volunteerism efforts. Do those that get the business out into the community–volunteering as part of a litter cleanup, for example–as well as those that take place at the business.