By Alex Perdikis
It’s no secret that one of the best ways to get name recognition for your small business is by giving. The benefits can’t be denied. What is it about giving that’s so rewarding—not only in a fulfilling way, but also monetarily? The psychological reasons may have something to do with the recent downturn which, in fact, was caused by greed. Still, giving back is a long-standing business tradition that’s been a tried and true strategy for decades. Here are five reasons why giving back benefits you and your small business.
- You Will Gain Respect and Earn a Great Reputation
A small business’s involvement in the local community is a win-win in so many ways. First and foremost, community members in need benefit from local business giving. What happens when you help those in need in your community? You build a network of people who support your company. Those you help will not be silent about your support, either. Your good deeds will be talked about. Word-of-mouth is still one of the most efficient methods of advertising, and improving lives is certainly a positive way to get a mention—or even a shout.
- Your Customers Will Love You
In a Cone Communications study published in 2010, a whopping 85 percent of consumers said they have a better outlook on companies that give to a cause they personally care about. That better outlook translates into sales.
The best way to gain customer support through giving is to tie in a local need with your business. If you own a restaurant, how about inviting the homeless in once a week and giving them a free meal? In fact, that’s exactly what Chef D (real name Derrick Walton), who owns Rock Power Pizza in Des Moines, Iowa, does. Once homeless himself, Chef D vowed to offer hope to the hungry when he got back on his feet. Every Monday night, he closes the restaurant to the general public and feeds the homeless in the area. Somehow, word got out. In 2014, Ellen DeGeneres surprised Chef D with a $10,000 donation to keep the program going. You can’t ask for better word-of-mouth than that.
- Your Employees Will Love You
Employee happiness is essential for small-business success. Unfortunately, many small businesses can’t reward employees with big raises; as small companies, they just don’t have the resources. But there are other ways to make employees feel good about working for you. One way is to demonstrate that you are a leader who cares. Involving employees in charity drives and fundraisers is an added bonus that makes your employees feel like part of the solution. Bolstering morale makes for engaged employees who are enthusiastic about company success, even if you can’t pay them what they’d like.
- You Will Make Valuable Connections
Giving back brings you in close contact with many members of the community. You rub elbows with those in need and you make connections with other philanthropists in your community. Small-business owners who make connections with successful business executives often find themselves with opportunities they may not have had otherwise.
- It’s Good for Those in Need and It’s Good for You, Too
Giving back offers tax breaks and free publicity, it’s true. But being charitable also provides a much more important benefit: Giving back is good for your health. And your participating customers’ health. And your employees’ health. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the following health benefits come from giving to others:
- Lower rates of depression
- Lower stress levels
- Greater happiness
- Increased self-esteem
- Lower blood pressure
- Longer life
There’s actually science behind the idea that giving back makes people healthier and happier. Social psychologist Liz Dunn conducted surveys and experiments that showed adults are happier when spending more money on others than on themselves. Happier people are generally healthier people.
Keep It Real
Make sure your interest and work for a cause is real. It should be part of the fabric of your business. Customers and employees see beyond a particular charity event and look at what the company stands for. If you gather items for a recycling drive but do nothing to reduce your own company’s waste, others will see your charity events for what they are—an expedient attempt to increase the bottom line.