Is part of the reason you’re starting a business because you want to achieve meaningful change? Giving back and supporting those around you are all key elements of a thriving community.
It’s also a great opportunity to strengthen your team. Surveys show Canadians care about working for companies with a purpose and strong volunteering culture. Employees love the opportunity to volunteer through their work. According to the same surveys, 70 percent of employees said they’d be more loyal to a company that helps them support social and environmental causes.
There are a number of ways you can give back. Think about causes close to your heart. What causes most align with your mission and values? It can be anything from social issues, the environment, education, animals, to arts and culture or anything beyond that.
Not only will supporting something you personally care about feel more fulfilling, but it’ll also come across as more genuine – because it is.
Think about the kinds of organizations you’d like to support. With more than 86,000 registered charities in Canada, there are many to choose from. Most of them are smaller and more local than you think, with 90% of Canadian charities having 10 or fewer full-time staff.
You can use the Government of Canada search tool to look up any registered Canadian charity and find ones related to causes that matter to you.
Once you’ve thought about the kinds of causes or organizations you’d like to support, you can decide on the best-suited way for your business to support them. Here are some worthwhile ways to do that:
1. Give a dollar percentage of sales
You can give a percentage of sales of an item to go towards a specific cause. It could be a percentage of total sales or of a certain item. Some businesses will collaborate with charities to create a specialty item somehow aligned with the cause, similar to the concept of (RED) products. This is a great way to provide ongoing financial support to a charity while also increasing awareness.
2. Annual or quarterly financial “big give”
Another way to directly financially support an organization you care about is by donating a larger sum at certain times of the year. This can also be an opportunity to engage your team in fundraising efforts. Non-profits really benefit from recurring financial support that allows them to better budget their resources and make it go farther, but most Canadians give one-time donations. While any support is great, a business in a position to provide any kind of regular funding can have a tremendous impact on a non-profit.
3. Volunteer your time at a local organization
You don’t just have to give money. Volunteering your time somewhere locally is an important way to strengthen your community and start building ties. This could be spending a few hours at a food bank or volunteering at an animal shelter or festival. You can look up various volunteer opportunities available in your specific city. Charityvillage.com makes it easy to look up currently available positions across Canada and can help you pick an organization to volunteer with based on who needs immediate support. National Volunteer Week is another good opportunity to give your time.
4. Give employees paid time off to volunteer at an organization of their choosing
This gives employees the opportunity to support something they’re passionate about and strengthen their own ties to the community. It’s a good way to get them to develop their own sense of purpose, whether they volunteer at a food bank, an animal shelter, a school, a festival, or anywhere else that matters to them. Giving them space to have an impact on personal causes they care about is a great morale boost.
5. Host a “Volunteer Day” where the whole company volunteers together
Another option to engage with and promote bonding with your employees would be coordinating a day where the whole team volunteers somewhere together. You can make it a regular occurrence, rotate places you support and even give your team opportunities to propose and vote for the kinds of organizations they’d like to spend their day supporting.
6. Highlight local non-profits on your socials and e-newsletters
This is a valuable and low-cost way to use your existing resources to promote a cause you care about by giving them free access to your audience in a social media post or newsletter. This will help them spread awareness on a certain issue and potentially increase donors in the process.
7. Match employee donations
Like giving members of your team time off to volunteer at an organization of their choice, matching employee donations gives them the opportunity to financially support a cause personal to them.
8. Sponsor corporate teams and host events to raise money for the team
There are countless competitive team events like Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival, the Canadian Paralympic Committee’s ParaTough Cup or even local marathons/runs that allow corporate teams to sign up and raise money for a good cause. This is another fun team bonding opportunity that will also give back to your community.
9. Provide pro bono services to one or a few charities
Offer your services to local non-profits that could benefit from them but can’t necessarily afford them. You can choose to work with organizations that align with causes you care about, and maybe even share a similar mission as your business. This can involve providing a few pro bono hours of service a month, or even free training.
10. Sponsor community-based drives for specific populations
This is a good way to engage both your team and the larger community by hosting a specific fundraising drive that brings neighbours together, like collecting food donations for a specific cause, books for a school or raising funds.
11. Sponsor a local team
Local sports teams and little leagues, from softball to hockey are always looking for sponsors to help them cover their expenses. This is a great way to not only engage and get to know your community, but it helps promote sport, activity, and health amongst families. It can also be a more affordable way for a small business to fund a cause.
There are so many different ways to get involved in your community and give back, it’s all about finding the one most meaningful and feasible for your business and your team so you can truly have a lasting impact.