Top 15 Innovative Ways Your Business Can Give Back in 2016

The first half of this article was originally posted on allbusiness.com, but we couldn’t just stop at 7 Innovative Ways Your Business Can Give Back. So here are a few more…

Employee donation-matching programs are an excellent way for businesses to give back. But companies today are exploring new ways to contribute to their communities, simultaneously stimulating employee (and customer) engagement and having a great impact overall. Here are 7 15 ideas you can start implementing right now.

1. Gamify ‘going green’.

Churchill Education team member, John, watering the herbs.

Composting isn’t new, and let’s be honest…not very exciting. But you know what is? Gardening, and getting outside during the work day! Helen Rogerson, of Churchill Education, says her team has a bucket for food scraps in the company kitchen, which they empty regularly into a compost bin. They eventually use that compost to plant and grow a small herb garden on site.

Team members are able pick out the herbs, plant them and share the resulting produce. This is a fun and hands-on way to engage your employees and promote good environmental health throughout your business.

2. Auction off some goodies, and give away the proceeds.

‘Rainy Day in 3D’ original artwork for online auction.

Auctions are a simple way to raise money for a cause you care about, as people are more inclined to purchase products when the profits go towards a philanthropic project. This raises awareness about your company and your cause, and is a fun way to showcase your new and exciting products. Bluethumb and Handkrafted have a great model in place for this kind of fundraising.

They teamed up with local artists to auction off one-of-a-kind artwork online. This is truly win-win: the artists get exposure, and the businesses get to give back.

Bonus idea: you could add some extra creative flare and turn this into a penny auction to maximize impact, and give more people ‘the gift of giving.’ Bidders commit small amounts of cash, even a few pennies, towards the item being auctioned. The highest bidder gets the prize, but all the other bidders’ contributions would still go towards a great cause.

3. Better yet, just give away your awesome [extra] products.

If your company sells a physical good, you are bound to have extra materials and old models laying around. Don’t let them go to waste! Take Orion Labs’ as an example: the company now has their second generation of wearable communication devices on the market.

So what happened to the leftover first generation inventory? Operations guru Andrew Sherman saw an opportunity at a local homeless youth organization that could put the product to good use. He provided the devices, and arranged training for the nonprofit’s team so that these new electronics could improve communications within the program and help it run more seamlessly.

4. Add ‘giving’ incentives for meeting deadlines.

Buy1GIVE1 Malaria treatment project in Kenya

Whether it’s incentivizing clients, customers or employees to hustle towards a business goal, adding in a ‘giving’ reward is a sure way to move them to action. Accounting firm Jonathan Ford & Co used this method to motivate their clientele to file their tax returns on time, by promising to sponsor one child’s malaria treatment overseas for every timely return received.

Tax season is stressful enough, so not only is this helping the kids, it’s helping the employees’ work-flow management as well.

5. Use your workspace during off hours for a ‘can’t miss’ community event.

This is a good way to show your company’s commitment to the local community and become more integrated within it. You can offer a free event, like Amaze Education’s ‘movie night’ where anyone can come and enjoy a peaceful evening catching a new flick at its early education center.

Or you could even have an intimate, paid networking event and donate all the profits to the cause of your choice. Inspire CA holds these kinds of events every month and is able to contribute $1k-$2k to their preferred nonprofit projects afterwards.

6. Or donate your space to causes that could use it.

Basic meeting set up can go a long way.

Nonprofits and charities are often looking for space to use for meetings, events and fundraisers… so why not let them use your empty after-hours workspace to do so?

Chanson Water USA lets charitable organizations use their office space for events, giving back simply by not letting their space go to waste. On top of donating their unused space, they also donate their product, water ionizers, to cancer patients!

7. Give ‘giving’ for special occasions.

Providing ‘giving credits’ to your employees or clientele so that they can give to the causes of their choosing is a great way to celebrate achievements and milestones.

Jane Burns of Lighthouse Health Group has her employees designate their cause of choice during each of their birthday months. Lighthouse then uses the B1G1 business-giving platform to contribute directly towards their employees’ selected project(s). This kind of ‘giving gift card’ could be replicated for employee (and customer) engagements, weddings and birth announcements!

8. Teach a man to fish, or whatever field ‘fishing’ is for you.

Teach a man to fish…he’ll eat for a lifetime.

You’re an expert in your field, so offer up your expertise! It’s enormously valuable.

So many nonprofits target helping individuals with business development skills, and life-skills in general. Offering free expertise, like what Directive Consulting suggests, can make a world of difference for those looking to get their businesses off the ground.

9. Schedule an extra job on the house.

If you are in the business of ‘doing’, one tiny extra job for your team could go a long way for someone without the means to hire you otherwise. GreenPal, a company that connects customers with lawn care professionals, sends their team out to mow a lawn for free every month. The team is even involved in the giving process by nominating the homes they feel are most in need of the free service.

As an added bonus, you can turn this donated time into a team-building event!

10. Giving is the new gift card, for customer referrals anyway.

A ‘giving’ gift card is a great way to continue conversations.

More and more companies are giving gift cards as a ‘thank you’ for referrals. Yes, a $10 entertainment gift card can almost get you a movie ticket, but that same $10 could also give 1,000 days of access to clean water in Africa. Which do you think your customers would appreciate more?

Home Inventory Services knows the answer, and has been donating to charitable organizations of their customers’ choosing for each referral they receive.

11. Turn your products into cause-evangelizers.

Adding information about a cause you care about to your product marketing toolkit is a great start, but embedding a giving function straight into your product is even greater.

Swift Passport encourages passport applicants to register as organ donors, just like how the DMV asks those who are filling out driver’s license applications to do the same. They are taking something familiar, in this case identifying as an organ donor, and using the product to move people to action.

12.Hire locally, in an underserved community.

Providing a job opportunity is one of the most valuable resources a business can offer for getting people off the streets and back on their feet. Eighteen Chefs in Singapore offers former convicts and troubled youth much-needed second chances by bringing them on to their team.

While it might take a little extra vetting, this is a truly commendable way to help your community grow.

13. Select suppliers that care.

All the good you are doing can be wiped away in an instant by suppliers that don’t share your socially conscious vision. Ensure that your raw materials are produced ethically, and become a more sustainable business in the process.

Starbucks makes it a priority to source their raw materials from local suppliers that have proven that they care about their communities. And that contagious, caring disposition trickles all the way down from the coffee beans into their customers’ cups.

14. Let your employees volunteer while on the clock.

Encourage your employees to volunteer during [a few] office hours!

Allow your employees to take some time away from the daily grind to give back, either individually or as a team. Black N Bianco organizes volunteer opportunities as team-building events, often serving meals together at a local shelter.

Alternatively, give your employees the option to volunteer for a cause of their choosing. Employees at small business, Amplify Relations, have collectively volunteered 160 hours, which has simultaneously increased and diversified the business’ giving portfolio.

15. Utilize your cause to market your company, not just the other way around.

A ‘giving’ reputation is a good one, so allocate some of your marketing budget towards your charitable cause. LA-based real estate startup Rentspree spends its marketing dollars on helping the homeless develop their own business plans.

The Rentspree team members make it their mission to find homes for those who are searching for rental properties in their community, so helping those less fortunate create the means to do so is something that resonates strongly with potential clientele.

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Does your company have a great way of giving back? Share it below in the comments section!


Originally published at www.b1g1.com on August 31, 2016.