The business world is constantly shifting. One welcome change is the extra attention today’s consumers pay to a company’s ethics before deciding where to spend. Most prefer to conduct business with those with a strong sense of social responsibility, including B2B clients. How can these organizations give back to their communities and generate a positive reputation?
Establishing a generous donation program is only half the battle. Other methods improve your networking opportunities and give you a chance to build brand recognition among the B2B crowd and traditional customers – who may one day become clients.
Here’s how your firm can reap the benefits of benevolence, give back to your community, grow your reputation and make valuable contacts.
Contribute Time to Community Events
Charitable giving provides a temporary dopamine boost and some positive press. However, it pales compared to the good vibes you can build by donating your time to community events.
You’ll also build goodwill among employees, especially if you allow them to volunteer on the clock or provide comp time for their willingness to serve on weekends. The right apps let you track everyone’s schedules on the fly, even when in the field.
A huge benefit of volunteering at such events is the networking opportunities. You never know who might compete in your town’s annual Thanksgiving 5K. You could meet a key player in a firm with whom you’ve hoped to form a contract for years, and your chances improve if they drop your name around other decision-makers.
You might also coordinate with state and local governments and charities to perform acts of goodwill that provide lasting benefits to your benevolence. For example, signing your organization up for the Adopt-A-Highway program rewards your team with a sign that stands along your dedicated stretch, building name recognition for your business among drivers who pass it.
Help Fund Local Charities
Perhaps the simplest and most obvious way B2B companies can give back to their communities is through charitable gifts. As a business owner, you have a unique opportunity to support causes that fit your organization’s values through one-time donations or ongoing support.
Doing so helps come tax time, as you may be eligible for a nice federal deduction, depending on your entity type. Some states also offer deductions and credits for charitable giving.
To maximize positive PR, choose a charity based in the local region where you conduct business. For example, while a United Way donation may end up in California if you’re in Virginia, a gift to the state lottery funds programs like the “Thank a Teacher” art contest.
The winning artwork became thank you cards distributed to area teachers, while the winning students gained money for their school’s art department.
Donate Your Expertise to Related Causes
You’re in business because you’re the best at what you do. One of the greatest benefits you can give back to your community is the gift of your expertise.
Area libraries, local parks and recreation departments and community colleges regularly hold adult education classes. Signing up to teach one showcases your expertise and grows your reputation as the firm to go to for advice about X.
Another fabulous example of this in action is PetSmart. They partner with The Humane Society to showcase adorable, adoptable puppies and kittens to a hot crowd — people who are already dedicated pet lovers. How can your firm emulate its example? Here are some ideas:
Tax and accounting firms: Can volunteer with free tax preparation clinics.
Athletic apparel retailers and manufacturers: Might partner with area parks and recs to sponsor teams.
Construction crews: Could join forces with Habitat for Humanity to build quality housing for low-income families.
Retailers of all kinds: Can form liaisons with charities that need their unique goods. For example, an arts and crafts store might sponsor a nonprofit art therapy clinic.
Lawyers: Might collaborate with local legal aid programs to help the indigent.
Become a Patron of the Arts and Humanities or Sports
One final method B2B companies can use to give back to their communities is to become sponsors of the arts and humanities. After all, few people would know of Van Gogh or Picasso if it weren’t for the museums showcasing their treasures.
Becoming a patron of a new arts center, museum or theater often earns your business a nice plaque to build your name recognition in the community. You might also seize mentions in show programs or a chance to display brochures and business cards in a special section of the facility dedicated to supporting local small businesses.
Sports franchises also need sponsors to build and improve stadiums. You might not have a new major league team coming to your town soon, but what about local teams? Is there a nearby playground with a softball or soccer field that’s seen better days? Contact the responsible party – typically the city – and inquire about sprucing it up in exchange for signage like a major league park.
This method has one major advantage: such venues are where area movers and shakers tend to spend their free time. Your act of kindness makes your presence known among them, even if you don’t attend the show.
How B2B Companies Can Give Back
One frequently overlooked method of generating positive PR for your business is giving back to your community. Doing so lets you benefit from benevolence by growing your reputation, building name recognition and expanding your professional network.
The four methods above can help your company do more to support your local community. Doing so is a win-win – find your ideal opportunity and reap the benefits of benevolence.