You don’t have to be a big as Campbell Canadato have a social purpose that is consistent with who your business is and what it does. Campbell Canada recently launched Nourish, a not-for-profit product developed to addresss the growing problem of world hunger and a great example of how business and social outcomes can be aligned. Smaller companies can learn from what Campbell has done with Nourish. Here are some practical ideas that illustrate how to support the community in ways that are linked to the type of small business you operate.
If you have a shoe store, dedicate a week (or even a month) ever year to match each pair purchased with a pair donated to an organization that helps the homeless.(see: Tomsfor inspiration) How about starting a loyalty program where you donate a pair of shoes after your customer purchases 10 pairs?
If you own a moving or trucking company, provide free shipping to a local charitable organization that needs to move things as a part of its operating model (e.g. Your local Goodwill Industries) or share what you know to help the organization improve the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of its logistics. Promote this program on your trucks.
If you have a contracting business get your trades to support a local Habitat for Humanityhousing project every year and let current and potential customers know about what your doing.
If you have a dry cleaning store tell your customers to bring in clothes they no longer need and then give them to a local homeless shelter (you’ll be helping your customers solve a problem and helping people who are in real need of clothes). Promote this program on customer receipts and on signage in your store.
If you have a restaurant make sure you donate excess fresh food to an organization such as Second Harvestthat delivers food daily to social service agencies. Include this information on your menus and make sure your staff tell customers about what your doing.
These examples show how owners of smaller companies can support the community in ways that are cost-effective, easy to communicate and authentic. Interestingly, these are same objectives that large corporations need to pay attention to.