When you start earning a profit from your business, it’s normal to feel the urge to give something back to those who are less fortunate than you. Giving back to your community by volunteering your time is not only admirable morally, but strategically as well.
Before we get into the list of volunteer ideas for small businesses, let’s back up and look at why volunteering can be so hugely beneficial for small companies.
How Volunteering Helps Your Business
When your community members and customers see you spending time volunteering and helping others, something called the halo effect comes into play. If you manage this “cognitive bias” correctly, it could mean your business earns loyal customers before they even purchase a product or service from you.
The halo effect is a psychology term that describes a bias where our first or most powerful impression of someone influences how we judge and evaluate that person later on – long after that original impression and in spite of any actions that do not support our original impression.
VeryWell put it simply in this example: “Essentially, your overall impression of a person (He is nice!) impacts your evaluations of that person’s specific traits (He is also smart!).”
What volunteering says about you
By volunteering in your community and getting involved locally, you’re shifting that cognitive bias in your favor. For many people, this will be their first impression of your company. You’re a trustworthy business that cares about your community and doesn’t mind getting your hands dirty to help. You’re interested in more than just profits. That’s a powerful first impression to make on community members, and one that will be carried on as you stay involved.
The halo effect can help your business win loyal customers, and volunteering in your community can put it all in motion and put your best foot forward with your audience. Now, back to the list of volunteer ideas for businesses!
10 Volunteer Ideas for Small Businesses
1. Sponsor a community youth sports team. You’ll get excellent local advertising and you’ll feel good about doing your part. For bonus points, join or start an adult sports league (softball, soccer, volleyball, etc.) and make it a point to connect with your teammates!
2. Guide local history tours if they accept volunteers. They’ll teach you everything you need to know, you’ll learn more about the history of your community, and people will associate your face and name with something culturally valuable and positive.
3. Hold a bake sale for your favorite local charity or organization. Get everyone from your business together, or enlist the help of family and friends to bake cakes, cookies, pies, and bars to sell one weekend and give the profits to the organization you choose.
4. Organize a small community auction for charity. Ideas for items to auction: Gift baskets with edible goodies from local stores, gift certificates to local restaurants, entertainment, or health and wellness services, free nights at local bed and breakfasts, hotels, and motels, antiques, furniture, and vouchers good for local lessons.
5. Teach or lead a local class. It can be anything that people are interested in learning how to do – basic computer skills, baking, couponing, music, art, history, fossil hunting, etc. An additional benefit is that you strengthen your brand image by positioning yourself as an industry expert, earning the community’s trust.
6. Get a team together for a walking or running event for a cause, like Relay for Life or Race for the Cure. Show your support (and your sillier side, if you’d like) by dressing in bright colors and matching team outfits/shirts for the event!
7. Offer to help local organizations with small tasks during events, like handing out brochures, water bottles, or picking up garbage. Bonus: Introduce yourself as the owner of ___, here today to pitch in and help the event run smoothly however you can.
8. Get involved in or organize a local cleanup! This is one of our favorite volunteer ideas. A nearby river, empty lot, beach, or park could look good as new in just a couple hours with a big group from your community helping clean it up.
9. Give back to the environment. Say you’ll plant a tree for every $5 spent at your business, offer discounts when customers bring their own recyclable bags, or start a community garden.
10. Host a food-packaging event for hungry children. Your local school will likely allow you to host there. Spread the word and watch the community come together for a great cause!