Your local community is a stakeholder in your business, and every business, no matter how big or small, can and should make corporate social responsibility (CSR) a core part of its business model. You don’t have to be a huge corporation with a budget of millions, even a small or micro business can make a difference by giving something back.

Why? Because not only is it good for your reputation, it also makes you and your employees feel good, generates goodwill, and makes your community a better place to live. Giving back is great publicity and PR. It’s an ideal way to establish your business within your local area and create valuable networking opportunities. Your business name and brand become more visible and you will attract new customers just as effectively as the smartest advertising campaign.

Five Cost-Effective Ways to Support Your Local Community

And it needn’t break the bank. Donating cash to a local charity is a fine undertaking but it’s by no means the only way. Here are five cost-effective ways to promote your small business for those on even the tightest of budgets:

  1. Sponsor a local youth sports team: You can add your brand name to the team kit, take advertising space in the fixture programmes, offer to host the annual prize giving, or even provide the pizzas after the game!
  2. Sponsor a fund-raising event: You can donate money to help offset the cost of the event or donate products that can be given away to participants. This can be anything from fresh fruit to branded reusable water bottles.
  3. Donate your skills and time: You can lend a few hours of your time in a “pro bono” capacity to help a local charity or non-profit organisation by using your expert skills. For example, in marketing, accounting, or building and decorating.
  4. Use local services: By using other local small businesses you’re demonstrating your support for them, and they will reciprocate. If it’s a positive experience tell others and recommend them. When businesses are more focused on supporting each other than competing, the entire local economy will flourish.
  5. Encourage your employees: Make it easy for your employees to take part in fundraising events or donate their time by giving them paid time off (up to a limit). This boosts morale while also increasing your business’ community involvement. This can be to support your preferred charity, or for a cause of their own choosing.

Please remember that supporting your community requires a continuous effort and should not be considered a one-off activity. After all you would never run a single advertisement and expect it to produce constant results, would you? You should treat your charitable giving as a regular business undertaking. That’s how you will create a long-lasting impact and build a positive local reputation.

And remember, no matter how much or little you can contribute, it all helps.

By Helen Say, a freelance writer and blogger www.cblservices.co.uk.