35 Creative Ways Your Business Can Give Back

As Chief Do-Gooder at Signify, Kristi Porter helps cause-focused organizations get noticed and grow through effective marketing and communications. She also teaches small businesses how to incorporate easy philanthropy and giving strategies. Essentially, she helps people build and engage a larger audience, increase their sales or donations, and do more good.

As a goBeyondProfit member, I’m going to go ahead and skip the “why” you should give back speech because you and I are already on the same page. We know that commerce and cause should go together like peanut butter and jelly, but I’m guessing it’s the “how” that’s tripping you up.

Whether you are a solopreneur, micro business, or have a couple hundred employees, let me begin with some good news: You can actually, and intentionally, give back with your small business . . . starting right now.

I know a lot of small business owners want to incorporate philanthropy of some kind into their company but get stuck on exactly what that looks like. They tend to think they don’t have enough to give. They fear their impact would be too small. They don’t see how much they really do matter.

However, there are so many creative ways to give back, and that nothing is too small. No matter what you have to offer, there is an organization just waiting to hear from you.

In reading through this list, you may immediately spot a great fit for your business. But, even if you don’t, I hope it will show you how to begin taking stock of your own inventory, so to speak. Write down your unique list of assets: products, services, resources, influence, etc. 

From there, you just need to decide on a cause that you care about and reach out to an organization that focuses on that issue. I’m sure they’ll be thrilled to start the conversation!

Like with your own business, start small, test, and be prepared to grow. You don’t need to make a big commitment in the beginning. But get out there and get started. You’ll be so glad you did!

  1. Make an introduction. Even a small network can be quite valuable. Once you find out the needs of the org, introduce them to someone who can help meet it.
  2. Donate miles. Are you a frequent flyer? Many reward programs allow you to transfer your miles to nonprofits.
  3. Volunteer your time. Don’t get hung up on the number or frequency of hours. Work with the organization to find a fit for both of you.
  4. Match donations. Have a larger sum of money to offer? Rather than simply donating it, offer to match funds to encourage others to give as well.
  5. Form a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) committee. This is a great, long-term strategy to begin involving employees and shifting internal culture. 
  6. Advocate. Use your business’ influence to speak up for issues and organizations in public, private, and governmental circles. 
  7. Donate. Many people wait to donate until they have larger sums, but don’t let that stop you. If you have $5 per month to give, start there. I promise, it counts.
  8. Attend events. An easy way to start building a relationship with nonprofits and social enterprises is simply by attending their events.
  9. Extend an invitation. Invite someone from the organization to speak to your employees or in front of groups you have access to.
  10. Host an event. From small board meetings to large galas, event spaces can sometimes to be hard to come by. If you have a space, offer it up!
  11. Sponsor an event. Small events sometimes have sponsorship levels beginning at just a few hundred dollars.
  12. Inform yourself. If you aren’t sure which cause you want to start with, begin exploring through conversations, books, podcasts, social media, and Google.
  13. Hire intentionally. Start or get involved with an employment program that gives employment and educational opportunities.
  14. Purchase with purpose. Buying corporate gifts? Choose products made by socially responsible companies. For everyday items, check out Amazon Smile.
  15. Purchase from a wish list. A number of charities have Amazon Wish Lists to make giving easy and focus on assets they readily need.
  16. Charge it. You can now even give back through your credit card purchases. And, yes, it’s still tax-deductible!
  17. Offer to organize. Administrative and organizational tasks often fall by the wayside, so this is an easy way to step in and provide practical help.
  18. Be a mentor. Your professional skills and experiences are a valuable commodity, especially to nonprofits. Mentor another leader or offer your expertise.
  19. Be a board member. Just like the item above, many nonprofits are often looking for qualified board members who can help guide the organization.
  20. Provide scholarships. Support a person’s education, further a career field, or help ensure educational access. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount! 
  21. One for one. This is a popular model, and while it’s not for everyone, it can certainly pack a powerful punch.
  22. Set aside funding. This could come from a particular launch, product, service, or an overall percentage of proceeds.
  23. Invite your friends and employees. Don’t keep your involvement to yourself. If you care about it, others just might too.
  24. Lunch and learn. Host a lunch for the organization and pass along some of your valuable skills or knowledge.
  25. Pick a day. Is there a particular day that means a lot to your favorite nonprofit? (ex: World Water Day) Work with them to make it more special.
  26. Give a grant. If the organization benefits people, offer to give a grant to one of the beneficiaries. (ex: woman who graduates from a program and needs to buy car)
  27. Give employees time. If you have a staff, consider allowing them a certain amount of hours per month to volunteer with their favorite charities.
  28. Gather your team. Volunteering as a staff can be a fantastic bonding experience and allows employees to see you in a completely different way.
  29. Rotate the cause. Allow employees to help choose where monthly donations get sent. Giving them say helps create greater buy-in, so to speak.
  30. Start with coffee. Explore issues and organizations by taking other leaders out for coffee. This will help you determine needs and find a great fit.
  31. Donate your services. If you have offer professional services through your business, chances are the nonprofit can utilize them in some way.
  32. Donate your products. If your business revolves around physical products, check to see if the nonprofit staff or their beneficiaries can use them.
  33. Auction it off. It’s common for annual fundraising events to include silent or live auctions. You may have something that’s a great fit.
  34. Provide tech support. If you’re a tech wiz, check to see if the charity needs help setting up or revamping their digital systems.
  35. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Upgrading your office equipment? If it’s still in good shape, donate your used items to an organization that could use it.

It is possible to give back on any budget. Feel free to explore my resource list to continue learning beyond this post.