Communicating the Heart of a Business Through Community Involvement
By Renee Payne
Community involvement is one of the best ways to communicate the heart of a business. The message it sends is unmistakably, "We are here and we care." Many successful businesses, from the smallest "Mom and Pop" to the largest corporation, are committed to getting involved and "giving back" to their communities. With each business being able to tailor how it "gives back" to fit its own unique abilities and circumstances, countless options of community involvement are available. Definitely a win-win situation, getting involved and "giving back" generates rewards for both communities and businesses alike.
Some Ways to Get Involved and "Give Back"
1. Don't throw it away—give it.
When it is time to upgrade office equipment or clear out old stock to make room for new inventory, don't abandon these still perfectly good items to a landfill. Find a way to get them into the hands of those who need them and can put them to good use. Whether it is a non-profit organization in need of equipment still in good condition, or a family who can't afford to buy a computer, or a food pantry who can quickly distribute items not quite yet expired, your generous gift to them will definitely be most appreciated. Check around to see who could benefit the most from your gift. Find a need and fill it instead of a landfill.
2. Volunteer—give your time.
There are places all around the community that need good volunteers to help lighten the load. For instance, business owners and employees alike can get involved by helping out at the local homeless shelter, animal shelter or community center. Why not join forces with city leaders, the police and fire departments, other businesses and churches to have a special day for helping senior citizens or the disabled with their yard work, painting, shoveling, etc. Time is one of the most valuable gifts that can be given, and probably one of those most treasured.
3. Don't just think holidays—give all year round.
By all means break out that festive cheer and distribute boxes of food, clothing and toys to families in need during the holidays. But don't let it stop with the last "HO! HO! HO!" fading in the air. There are many opportunities to meet the needs of the community throughout the whole year.
One such opportunity is to sponsor what is known as a Little Pantry. Little Pantries, also known as Blessing Boxes, are popping up everywhere. This phenomenon is growing in popularity as more and more businesses, churches, organizations and individual citizens are setting up these little pantries to give back to their communities and help their neighbors in need.
Most Little Pantries are small enclosed outdoor cabinets made of wood with glass doors. They can be free standing or attached to the side of a building. Anyone from the community can pitch in to keep its shelves stocked with non-perishable canned or dry foods and personal care items such as toothpaste, toilet paper, deodorant, and soap. In turn, anyone from the community who is in need of these items can come and get what they need. What a wonderful way to get more involved and to pull a community together.
When a business gets involved and "gives back", the rewards are numerous. Not only does it help the community grow, it results in bringing the community together and promoting a close-knit neighborhood atmosphere. What could be better than having businesses, local authorities, and neighbors all working together for the good of the community? Everyone is a winner.
In turn, community involvement reaps rewards for the business. By becoming more visible and promoting goodwill, a business strengthens its reputation and image. Customers are attracted to businesses that are generous and trustworthy. Therefore, "giving back" helps set a business apart from the competition. Again, everyone is a winner.
There are many ways to get involved and "give back" in all communities. Each business needs to determine how it can do it best. Whether it is through donations, events, projects, fundraisers, sponsorships or just giving time and labor there is something that is the perfect fit for every business.
Remember, both the community and the business benefits, making it a definite win-win situation. The community grows and becomes stronger and closer-knit. The standing and reputation of the business is strengthened thus attracting more business through its doors. This is a fantastic way for any business to communicate, "We are here and we care." Actions do speak louder than words.