8 Ways Small Businesses Can Have a Big Impact during National Volunteer Week

April 15, 2015

April 12 – 18 marks National Volunteer Week, which is the perfect time to think about ways that your small businesses can give back to the communities where you have operations and your clients live. Simply by existing and creating countless jobs, small businesses already have a major impact on our communities. But, there’s always more you can do. So, if you live by the maxim set forth by John F. Kennedy, "ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country", then check out our list of the top 8 ways that small businesses can have an even bigger impact on their community.

    1. Schedule a Team Volunteer Project

Volunteering your time in support of a local non-profit is one of the easiest (and cost effective) ways to support your community. Giving back through volunteerism also has the added benefits of being an excellent team building activity that can help you build employee morale and teach new leadership skills. Resources like Idealist and VolunteerMatch can help you identify local non-profits in need of your help. You can also poll your employees to find out where they are interested in giving back. 2. Share Your Skills Non-profits often suffer from skill gaps that can hamper their effectiveness. Conversely, small businesses tend to be stacked with employees who are highly specialized with unique skills. Consider the impact your CFO could have by helping a local shelter with their financial planning, or how a marketing team could bring a social media campaign to life for a food bank. The sky is the limit when it comes to skill-based volunteerism, so take flight!

  1. Launch a Matching Gift Program

Your employees are probably already giving financially to the charitable causes that are most important to them. You can help them enhance the impact of this charitable giving by creating a matching gift program. You might choose to match donated funds on a dollar-to-dollar basis, only match employees that volunteer (usually called "dollars for doers"), or do a 50% match. Either way, its important to spell out that only donations made to qualifying non-profits will be matched.

  1. Hold a Donation Drive

Hosting a donation drive is one of the easiest ways to give back to the community. All that’s needed are some strategically placed collection bins and an internal communications plan. Whether you plan to collect canned goods, winter coats, or school supplies make sure that you are clear with employees about the donation deadlines so you don’t have to coordinate multiple trips to the non-profit.

  1. Bring Volunteerism In-house

While traditional volunteer projects are great, not every employee can get away from their desk for 4 hours on company time. For those employees with constrained schedules who still want to give back, you can always bring the volunteer projects to them. A great example is a packaging party. After hosting a donation drive, reserve a conference room and set up an assembly line in which employees can package care kits with the donated items. This can be a great project if you want to support the troops. Donations can usually be made through a local American Legion post or a non-profit like Operation Gratitude. You can even package the donated materials in company branded bags to build awareness about your company.

  1. Let’s Get Digital

Yes, believe it or not, it’s possible to volunteer your time online. Resources like Catch a Fire can help you engage employees that prefer to volunteer on their own time and without the interference of… other people.

  1. Schedule a Blood Drive

There’s nothing more gratifying than giving the gift of life. By scheduling a blood drive through American Red Cross at your local small business your employees (and even clients) can give back in a short amount of time. If you have food-motivated employees, blood drives always have snacks.

  1. Run for It!

There is a charitable 5K for any non-profit cause that you can think of. Consider sponsoring such an event, or even just getting a company team together to run the event. You’ll work on your fitness and support a great cause. Could anything be better?