10 Creative Ways Businesses Can Give Back

businesses can give back

Being part of the startup community means giving back — not only to other entrepreneurs, but to causes you feel strongly about supporting.

Despite your good intentions, it’s easy to lose sight of that goal. And not every startup can afford to (or should) incorporate social “good” into their business model. How do you use your business to give back when time and resources are in short supply?

We asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invitation-only organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs, to share the following:

“Name one creative way to get employees to give back to the causes they care about most.”

Here’s what YEC community members had to say:

1. Kickstart It

“I gave every employee a small quarterly allowance to back Kickstarter Projects they thought could impact hundreds, if not thousands, of people. We gave each employee about $150 to spend on these projects, and it was awesome to see where they would allocate the funds. Some of the projects backed included + Pool, Ghost, LowLine, Head in the Clouds and many others.” ~ Scott Ferreira, MySocialCloud

2. Lead by Example

“I am very involved with my community. I share my stories and encourage my team members to join me for the next event. I also make a point to support my co-workers at their events. Philanthropy can also be a great team-building event for your business. For example, our team is all doing an AIDS walk this weekend and a brunch afterwards. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning. ” ~ Alex Chamberlain, EZFingerPrints, LLC & EasyLiving, Inc

3. Give Back at What You’re Good At

“I actively encourage corporations and startups alike to participate in high value for time volunteering schemes. For example, don’t encourage software engineers to work in a soup kitchen, but have them instead teach STEM and CS at inner city schools in one or two day immersive programs. This way, maximum impact is achieved, and employees feel like truly valuable members of society.” ~ Christopher Pruijsen, Raising IT

4. Sponsor a Local Charity Event

“We usually sponsor the marketing for local charity events, and we get our team involved with supporting the organization of the event, as well as the online marketing initiatives. This is a good way to generate value for the charity organizations without having to ask your employees to put money on the line. By helping, they can help the organization generate its own money. ” ~ Andy Karuza, Brandbuddee

5. Make Social Good a Part of Company Culture

“For businesses that can’t incorporate social good into their models, there are still ways to make social good a part of the company culture. Companies can give their employees a full day every quarter on company time to volunteer for an organization of their choice, or they can create partnerships with local nonprofits to donate time and resources every month or quarter. ” ~ Sean Kelly, HUMAN (Helping Unite Mankind And Nutrition)

6. Give out an Annual Grant Stipend

“What if your employer just gave you money to give away? You’d feel obligated to put it to good use. A no-strings-attached annual grant stipend with a set dollar amount in which every employee is able to give to a nonprofit of their choosing is smart. It puts the emphasis on the employee, and it creatively gives employees a way to give back for social good. ” ~ Brett Farmiloe, Internet Marketing Agency

7. Align Interests

“We found a way to match employee interests to opportunities to give back. The company supports such initiatives and encourages our team members to share their personal causes with teammates, supporting through attendance and tickets or contributions. We have chosen two areas, health and education, which align with what we do. Each year, we support one organization.” ~ Shradha Agarwal, ContextMedia

8. Give Bonuses to Charities

“Set metrics or goals for your team to reach. If they reach the goal or certain individuals perform the best, give them a bonus that is meant to be given to their favorite charity. This way, it becomes a contest where everyone wins. Plus, they feel empowered to help with something they are passionate about. ” ~ John Meyer, Lemon.ly

9. Provide Incentives

“One of my girlfriends recently started working for a very large hedge-fund management company, and to my surprise, a lot of people in the office go casual — even wearing sneakers. The reason why: Every quarter they select a new charity to support, and any employee who opts to donate $15 or more gets to enjoy business casual for the quarter.” ~ Cody McKibben, Digital Nomad Academy

10. Go Pro Bono

“Because our company is socially oriented, we get asked this question by fellow entrepreneurs all the time. Nonprofits are in need of talent, but often they cannot afford to pay for it. For-profit employees need opportunities to give back and get leadership opportunities. Pro bono can be the answer to both, and we strongly encourage companies to leverage their talent to benefit nonprofits.” ~ Suzanne Smith, Social Impact Architects

Charity Photo via Shutterstock


The Young Entrepreneur Council The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

14 Reactions
  1. These are all really good ideas. I particularly like the idea of a business supporting a local charity event; as part of the community, it’s what I feel they should do of they’re in a position to.

    I also really like the ninth and tenth one.

  2. I really like #3 because it creates more value by having people volunteer in a situation where their specific talents will be brought to bear.

  3. Holding events that spring inspiration is good practice because it’s not only for the benefit of others but it builds character that can shape our future selves.

  4. Here are a few more ideas. 1. food drives (ever town or area has a food drive. Just Google your area, food drive) 2. start a running race for a cancer hospital like sloan-kettering. (donate direct to the hospital. Each team member at your business can be in control and manage an area. 1 employee may be in charge of t shirts, while another is in charge of getting approved with the town, while your marketing department spends a day on marketing the race, etc.. 2. Invite employees to the local church when they have an event. At my church a few months ago they had Saturday fun surf day and we invited our entire staff to meet at the beach. Employees appreciate being part of something great like this, and it allows everyone to form close relationships.

    • Really like those ideas, Paul. All very doable. I guess the food drives could be interwoven into what a business regularly does, doing it every last Friday of the month or something.

  5. For businesses, giving back is not really an option but a responsibility. You should always share your blessings not only to less unfortunate people but also to your employees. I like the ideas that you have presented here about how you can give back in different ways.

  6. Some excellent ideas! I really like #1 the kickstarter idea. Of course donating to a local charity should almost be a requirement. Thanks for sharing!

  7. You have to ask about the underlying premise on why you should so-call give back to some other entity of sort. If you do it in a voluntarily way, I have no problem with it. It is important we understand the trader principle, otherwise we can’t defend the free market.