In an increasingly competitive retail landscape, small retailers are always seeking an edge. As we head into an uncertain holiday shopping season, one way your small shop can get customers’ attention and earn some of their cash is by giving back to the community.
The success of initiatives such as Small Business Saturday has shown that consumers have a strong interest in supporting their local communities with their dollars. Getting involved in socially responsible activities in your area is one of the best ways to show your business’s commitment to the community.
So where to start?
Ideas for How to Give and Receive in Business
Highlight Your Existing Social Cause Activities
If your business is already involved in social responsibility, be sure to highlight these activities around the holidays:
- Post pictures on social media and your website of your employees packaging up gifts for disadvantaged children or feeding the homeless on Thanksgiving.
- Write about your efforts on your website and in your email newsletters.
- Keep a running tally on your website of the number of toys, hours, dollars, etc. donated to your charity so far. Include a call to action for how customers can help (“Click here to buy/donate/learn more”).
If Non-Existent, Take Up a Social Cause
If you aren’t already involved in a social cause, the easiest way to get started is to participate in existing local organizations’ holiday outreach, such as toy and food drives.
While there are many worthy organizations your business could get involved with nationally or even globally, since your goal is to attract local customers, you want to focus your charitable efforts at home:
- Ask your employees about local organizations they support; have everyone vote on which one to focus on.
- Poll your customers for suggestions and hold a vote on social media or your website for which organization you’ll support.
- Pick an organization based on your industry and/or customer base. For example, it’s a no-brainer for a toy store to support a children’s toy drive or a restaurant to donate to a local food bank.
Get Your Customers Involved
Everyone’s in a giving mood around the holidays, and offering your customers an opportunity to contribute will make them feel good about themselves (and about your business):
- Put a donation jar at your point-of-sale with a sign explaining your charity so customers can drop their spare change in it.
- Inviting customers to join with you and your employees in a charitable event such as feeding homeless families on Thanksgiving.
- Ask customers if they’d like to “round up” their purchase price to the next dollar and you give the extra money to a charitable organization.
- Ask customers to donate food, blankets, toys or whatever your organization is seeking at your store; then you take it to the charity.
Create Specials to Drive Sales and Spirit of “Giving”
Customers love the idea of giving gifts and giving back at the same time:
- Host a special shopping day where a certain percent of all sales goes to your local charity. Be sure to let local newspapers, bloggers and radio stations know in advance so they can spread the word.
- Choose a certain gift item (or package of items) and give the profits (or a percentage of them) from that item to your local charity. Merchandise the product(s) prominently in your store with special signage highlighting the donation customers will be making simply by purchasing.
As you plan your charitable outreach, make sure to:
- Consult your accountant to make sure you are handling tax aspects of donations correctly.
- Promote what you’re doing and the results in your marketing and advertising as well as to the local media.
- Focus not on what you are getting out of charitable activities, but what you’re giving.
Charity Drive Photo via Shutterstock