5 Ways Start-ups Can Be Good Corporate Citizens

Photo of the ACT-W Conference supporting women in tech in Seattle.

I like to work with a lot of non-profits to create events and to raise funds. I’ve noticed that when I am looking for sponsors and reach out to start-ups, they want to get involved but often feel that they can’t due to financial constraints. I am here to tell you can! There are several non-financial ways to be involved in social good as a start-up.

Plus, outside of a healthy dose of good karma, there are a lot benefits of investing in a non-profit that aren’t always obvious. There are some real tangible benefits to focusing on good corporate citizenship as a start-up. Studies show companies that have good corporate citizenship show longer lengths of time with positive financial returns, have more engaged employees, and build stronger customer loyalty.

Here are some ways your start up can get involved in corporate citizenship:

Make in-kind donation

If you are a tech start-up there is a pretty good chance you are making something pretty cool! You can gain exposure and help out your community by donating a few of your own products. Non-profits can use them to help run their charity, use them as appreciation gifts for donations, they can even use them to create charity auctions!

Try this –

  • Give free premium access to your software, app. or product.
  • Donate your office space in the evenings to non-profits for their fundraising events, board meetings and programs.

Create an employee volunteer incentive program

Non-profits and charities often rely solely on volunteers. It can be really hard to find people willing to donate their time to a cause — even when they strongly believe in it. Your company can create a formal employee incentive program to help give them a little nudge.

Try this –

  • Offer extra paid days off for a specific amount of hours of volunteering.
  • Encourage employees to volunteer during work hours.

Make introductions to potential sponsors and volunteers

You’re out there networking your start-up. You’re meeting a lot of really cool and sometimes really influential people. Use your network to support your favorite non-profits by making introductions to potential sponsors and volunteers. You might be the catalyst of a beneficial relationship for a non-profit organization.

Try this –

  • The next time your favorite non-profit is putting on an event attend and bring a friend -heck bring five friends!
  • Set up volunteer or sponsorship meetings with friends, family members and colleagues on behalf of the non-profit.

Spread the word

Another great way to leverage your network is to just simply spread the word. Non-profits need advocates — loud ones! Word of mouth is still one of the most effective marketing tools out there — use it to support a non-profit.

Try this –

  • Give shout-outs or re-share on social media with both your personal and business accounts.
  • Make it your mission to tell just 5 people a week about your favorite non-profits mission.

Become a financial sponsor to a non-profit

Okay so I know I said I was going to give you ways to give back that didn’t cost money but I would be doing all fundraising managers a disservice if I left it off! Typically, non-profits seek out financial support first, which, for a start-up, may be unrealistic but if you have the means to give to non-profit groups you should. No matter how small. Just like a business, there are operational costs associated with running a non-profit that have to get covered. This is the most beneficial way to help.

Try this –

  • Make a monetary donation.
  • Give a percentage of your yearly sales.
  • Create a special product and donate the proceeds.

When start ups partner to solve real problems within their own community, they show that they are responsible leaders working to create a world in which people want to do business and a world in which people want to live. Non-profits understand it’s tough finding resources just to run your business let alone try to lend a hand. Whether its as simple as spreading the word or as big as making a financial donation, your company can give back to your community no matter how small it is.

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