SCORE

On the third Monday of every January, thousands of people remember civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King by volunteering.

The Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday was established in 1983, and the holiday was designated as a national day of service in 1994 to invite Americans to spend their day off as a “day on.”

Maybe your small business is already focused on supporting a cause in your community, Like Tamer Marshood’s organization Feeding by Reading; or Ian Acker’s gym, Fit to Recover, which includes a group of volunteers to keep the gym and community center running.

But maybe you’re a business owner who just wants to give back to your community. Here’s how to get started.

Choose a cause

Depending on your type of business, an obvious way to give back to your community might become clear right away. A cafe or restaurant might want to support a local soup kitchen. A veterinary hospital might choose to help a local animal shelter.

For other businesses, such a volunteer opportunity might not be clear. Think about these questions:

  1. What causes do I care about?
     
  2. What causes do my employees care about?
     
  3. How can we make the greatest impact?

Once you have some ideas, consider these methods of serving your cause in your community:

Participate in a day of service

Whether it’s a day you normally give as paid time off or a regular work day, consider setting aside a designated time to volunteer together as a company. You can search opportunities to serve during the Dr. Martin Luther King Day of Service, or choose your own day — perhaps by joining in with an already-scheduled community event. Encourage your staff to participate, but don’t require it.

Choose a cause to support all year long

Want to make a lasting impact? Choose a cause to support year-round through volunteer service, donation drives or even a marketing partnership. Developing a relationship with an organization you care deeply about not only endears your business to customers who share the same passion — it can also give your business an additional sense of purpose.

Give your employees time to volunteer

Can’t decide how to give back? Give your employees a chance to give back to causes they support. Offer a certain amount of paid time off, or consider flexible scheduling to provide employees a chance to make a regular volunteer commitment outside of work. Encourage who take advantage of this time to share their experiences and lessons learned with your team.

How will your small business serve in your community this year?