What is one resource or way for a small business to participate in volunteer work without sacrificing too much time/energy?
To help small businesses discover the best ways to participate in volunteer work, we asked CEOs and small business owners this question for their best insights. From joining a larger effort to making a donation to a local charity, there are several resources that will allow your business to participate in volunteer work without sacrificing too much time or energy.
Join a Larger Effort
Joining larger volunteer efforts can allow small businesses to give back to the community without over-dedicating scarce time or resources. For example, entering a charity race, donating goods to a charity auction, joining a community cleanup day, or participating in a food drive are all great options. These projects often have simple systems for groups to join. The event staff will take care of the organization and administration so that businesses can drop in, do good, and return to business without planning and executing the event.
Tasia Duske, Museum Hack
A great way to volunteer without sacrificing too much time/energy is to volunteer online. If you are a software company, offer your services to charities and organizations that would benefit from your tools. Same with if you are an SEO company, help build a better site for organizations for free. These types of volunteer work are usually low-cost and low-energy but still better for a community.
Michael Jankie, Natural Patch
Organize a Fundraising Event
Every community service group requires monetary donations, but you don't have to open your checkbook to help. You may help by hosting a fund-raiser for your favorite charity. You may make a difference by organizing a philanthropic raffle, walkathon, race, or other community event and offering something just as valuable as money: your time.
Veronica Miller, VPNOverview
Host an Item Drive
Plan an item drive for an organization or cause you are passionate about supporting. That could be a school supplies drive for your local schools, a canned food drive for a local food bank, or a clothing drive for families. Notify employees about the drive, have a collection area, and coordinate to have someone drop off the donations. Item drives are a great way to make a big difference in your community, and they don't take up too much time or resources to plan.
Tyler Read, Personal Trainer Pioneer
Sponsor Volunteer Surrogates
If you want to do some good in your community but don’t have the bandwidth to do so, simply use a surrogate. In other words, find some volunteer mercenaries of sorts. Let me explain by example, as this is precisely what our company does each year. Rather than taking a full day of our entire team’s time (which would cost a bloody fortune) to volunteer at a food bank or build a community garden, I instead pay the local high school’s JV baseball team to do so for us. I purchase their new jerseys for the year (usually around $1,200), and in exchange, the team spends an entire Saturday doing volunteer work on our company’s behalf, usually picking up trash in the park.
This is a win-win-win scenario that is good for everyone. The community benefits from a cleaner and more beautiful park, the baseball team gets brand new jerseys, and our company feels good about having effectively funded two meaningful purposes. In my opinion, paying surrogates is the only way to do volunteer work.
John Ross, Test Prep Insight
Build Your Schedule First
Build your monthly volunteer schedule first to find the organization that has the needs that fit your time best, rather than picking the opportunity first and trying to stuff their time requirements into your jam-packed schedule. Set aside time in your individual and collective team schedules for volunteer opportunities, then use a volunteer platform or reach out yourself to connect with not-for-profits that need your team’s help. You may even be able to score virtual opportunities that are virtual or flexible by nature, which makes scheduling a little easier. If a prospect doesn’t fit your schedule, move on to the next - there are plenty of worthwhile causes that all need and deserve volunteer help.
James Diel, Textel
Use a Corporate Volunteering Platform
Kill two birds with one stone and save time in your work schedule by creating employee-driven volunteer opportunities and becoming a more socially responsible company. Your team can volunteer, team-build, and build corporate responsibility, made easier with the help of an expert organization like Visit.org, Alaya, or Selflessly. Corporate volunteering platforms develop your entire program and connect you with the right organizations so you can save time and focus on what matters most - the volunteer efforts.
Samuel Devyver, EasyLlama
Work With Established Nonprofit Organizations
Volunteer work is an excellent way for small businesses to communicate their values. However, working with some nonprofits can require a lot of legwork, taking time away from business initiatives and even cutting into a company's bottom line. One of the best ways to avoid this headache is to work with established, well-known nonprofits that have strict guidelines on how to run their events. When businesses partner with these larger organizations, they can benefit from guidance and authority, which means they have to do less legwork to make events successful.
Many larger nonprofits provide everything a small business needs to hold an event benefiting a specific cause. This can include merchandise or collateral, marketing material, event guidelines, and more. That means businesses really only need to initiate the relationship and follow the steps to have a successful event. Both the business and the nonprofit benefit from the volunteer work, making it a rousing success.
Kyle Risley, Lift Vault
Promote Employee Volunteering
Stepping back, reconnecting with your company values, and incorporating volunteer work into your busy schedule might feel like a waste of time and energy, but many great nonprofits can benefit. Giving your team time to perform charitable work is a win-win situation, and as a small business, you can afford to lose one team member at a time.
Apart from supporting a charitable organization, corporate volunteering can benefit your business and your employees. As well as being good for society, studies have confirmed that volunteering boosts mental health and helps develop your employees’ leadership skills.
Hakeem Shittu, iPad Recycle
Offer Mentorship or Training Programs
There is much for a small business to gain from offering mentorship or training programs to those in need in the local community. Many of the disadvantaged people in the community struggle to find a way to gain the knowledge or skills required to help them gain a foothold in the jobs market.
By opening your door to those in need, you can use the skills of your workforce and the utilities you already have to help them build an independent and rewarding life for themselves. It is usually unnecessary for much expenditure to be assigned; you already have most of what you need. Nor is it a requirement for extra time to be expended; those in your program can spend much of their time shadowing and working alongside willing team members. You may even find that after training, you have a new, talented pool to recruit from.
Jonathan Zacks, GoReminders
Use Ecosia Search Engine
One way for a small business to do something prosocial for little effort is to use the Ecosia search engine. Based out of Berlin, Ecosia puts 80% of its profits toward nonprofit reforestation efforts. You can help plant trees in almost every continent doing everyday tasks by using their search engine. Boasting nearly 150M trees planted already, this company is one of the few sustainable businesses whose entire business model is designed to make a difference in the environment. By encouraging your employees to use Ecosia, powered by Bing, your entire office can contribute to replanting trees worldwide at no cost to your business.
Brad Neathery, Oak & Eden
Have Every Employee Teach a Class
Have each employee sign up to teach one class, every few months at an after-school program for at-risk kids. Offer examples of subjects such as yoga, dance, singing, coding, karate, acting, etc. Clubs such as the Boys and Girls Club of America and so many more like it will be thrilled to have so many new teachers! Class times often conflict with work but if you encourage most employees to participate. Only one employee will be missing at a time. Win-win!
Elliot Schwarcz, Becca's Home
Search Through Volunteer Match
One extremely easy option to find creative ways for your organization to give back within your community is volunteermatch.org, a national Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). Volunteer Match is the web’s largest volunteer engagement network, serving over 130,000 participating nonprofits and 150 corporate network partners, Founded in 1998, the non-profit has offices in 35 states and a full complement of virtual opportunities to help communities across the nation. With the infrastructure in place for individual and group opportunities, Volunteer Match can probably help match your organization with a cause near to your heart, no matter what size your organization is.
Nirav Sheth, Anatta Design
Make a Donation to a Local Charity
Donating to a local charity is an excellent way for a small business to participate in volunteer work without sacrificing too much time and energy. You can donate money, goods, or services, but a better practice would be to contact the charity and ask what type of donations they are most in need of. This way you can be sure that your donation is going to a worthy cause and making the most significant impact possible. Donations are less time-consuming than other forms of volunteering that involve actually going out and helping with events. However, they are still a meaningful way to give back to the community.
Danielle Bedford, Coople
Copyright © 2023 SCORE Association, SCORE.org
Funded, in part, through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. All opinions, and/or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SBA.