One of the most important things that a business can do is contribute to the community around it.
This spirit of giving not only builds up the very community that supports the business, but also provides the business with some well-deserved public recognition. Businesses shouldn’t contribute to their communities just for the recognition, of course; it’s merely a positive side effect that comes from business leaders trying to do the right thing.
Even though communities can use help any time of the year, the amount of help needed often grows significantly as the holidays creep closer.
If you’re wondering how your business can contribute to your local community this holiday season, here are six ideas to get you started:
Sponsor a Food Drive
Food pantries often run low around the holidays, especially in areas that experience significantly cold winters.
By sponsoring or hosting a food drive, your business can help restock the larder and ensure that there will be enough food to go around once winter’s chill arrives. If you partner with other local businesses, you can increase the overall take that much more.
Be sure to only collect in-date, non-perishable items in good condition to avoid having to throw away a lot of food before it can be distributed.
Collect Coats and Blankets
In addition to an increased need for food, the holiday season also sees an increased need for clothing items such as coats as well as blankets.
Poor individuals may not be able to afford new coats for themselves and their kids, and may not have enough blankets at home to keep warm at night. Similar to a food drive, using your business as a collection point for coats, blankets and similar items can help ensure that those in need are able to stay warm throughout the winter.
Toys for Santa
Another way to contribute to your community is to use your business as a drop-off point for Christmas toys for underprivileged children.
Collecting new or gently used toys for local children’s charities lets them inspect, wrap and deliver toys from “Santa” to children who otherwise may not get much or anything for Christmas. This can take the form of blind donations or an “angel tree” that features small angel cards that have the name and wish list of specific children written on them.
A cut-off date is usually required for toy collections, since the toys will need to be prepped and delivered before Christmas and that takes a little bit of extra time.
Sponsor Community Events
There are likely a number of events going on in your community during the holiday season.
Many of these will require sponsors to help cover the cost of putting the event on. By stepping up and offering a sponsorship, your business can ensure that there are holiday-appropriate events for the community to enjoy. This level of participation can be especially important in smaller communities where there may not be as much funding in the city budget for community events; in some cases, the events may not be able to happen at all unless businesses step up and offer sponsorships.
Instead of collecting items or sponsoring events, your business can also give away some of its products or services directly to those in need.
This may not apply to all businesses, of course, since you need to operate in an industry in which such a giveaway would make sense; a restaurant could offer a free breakfast or even free coffee, while a handyman service might offer to clear snow from driveways or walkways for the elderly.
Even if there’s only a limited amount that your business can give away, that effort will still have a significant impact on those who receive it.
Give to Local Charities
Chances are, there are some local groups already collecting money that goes into benefitting the community.
To help, you can either make a flat donation to these local charities or you can pledge a certain percentage of your sales to help them. The latter option also makes for a good marketing tactic; more people will shop with you during the collection period since they know that the more sales you make the larger your donation will be.
Some businesses put a cap on these sorts of donations to avoid giving away too much money, but you can always choose to go with a straight percentage of all sales regardless of how much the final donation ends up being.